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A wife's HOMAGE, 








I. -Introduces a Latter-day Hkkoink ... g 


III.— Environment Wins 29 

IV.— The CHOic',i of a Patron 41 

v.— Vive l'Anarchie ! 47 

VI.— The Inner Brotherhood 60 

VII.— A Mutinous Mutineer 68 

VIII.— Called "Of Accidents" 83 

IX.— I PLAY Carmen 95 

X.— Sic me .servavit Apollo! 104 

XL— A Sail on the Horizon 114 

XII.— A Cavalier makes Advances 131 

XIIL— Concerning Romeo 137 

XIV.— "Now Barabbas was a Publisher" ... 145 

XV.— Fresh Light on Romeo 155 

XVI.— I try Literature 165 

XVII.— A Drawn Battle 176 

XVIIL— An Autumn Holiday 194 

XIX.— "O Romeo, Romeo!" 203 

XX.— " Wherefore art thou Romeo.'" ... 223 

XXL— Envoy Plenipotentiary 242 

XXI I.— I Cling to the Rkjging 253 

NEW 3s. 6d. BOOKS. 


The Invisible Man. 

By H. G. VVem.s. 

Fortune's Footballs. 

By G. B. BuRGiK. 

The Skipper's Wooing. 

By W. W. Jacobs. 

John of Strathbourne. 

By R. D. Chetwooe. 





I WAS twenty-twO; and without employ- 

I would not say by this that I was without 
occupation. In the world in which we live, 
set with daisies and kingfishers and unde- 
ciphered faces of men and women, I doubt 
I could be at a loss for something to occupy 
me. A swallow's back, as he turns in the 
sunshine, is so full of meaning. If you dwell 
in the country, you need but pin on a hat 
and slip out into a meadow, and there, in 
some bight of the hedgerow, you shall see 
spring buds untwisting, sulphur butterflies 
coquetting ; hear nightingales sing as they 
sang to Keats, and streamlets make madrigal 
as they wimpled for Marlowe. Nay, even 
here in London, where life is rarer, how can 
I cruise down the Strand without encounter- 



ing Strange barks — mysterious argosies that 
attract and intrigue mc ? That living stream 
is so marvellous ! Whence come they, these 
shadows, and whither do they go ? — ;- in- 
numerable, silent, each wrapped in his own 
thought, yet each real to himself as I to my 
heart. To me, they are shooting stars, 
phantoms that flash athwart the orbit of my 
life one second, and then vanish. But to 
themselves they are the centre of a world 
— of the world ; and I am but one of the 
meteors that dart across their horizon. 

I cannot choose but wonder who each is, 
and why he is here. For one after another I 
invent a story. It may not be the true story, 
but at least it amuses me. Every morning I 
see them stream in from the Unknown, by the 
early trains, and disperse like sparks that 
twinkle on the thin soot of the chimney-back 
— men with small black bags, bound for 
mysterious offices. What happens in those 
offices I have no idea : they may lend money, 
or buy shares, or promote Christian know- 
ledge. I only know I see them come in the 
morning and flit again at night, sometimes the 
same figures, recognisably identical. They 
rush back, absorbed, to catch the train to the 
Unknown, as they rushed up from it earlier. 

., ^ 


So, day after day, the tide sets and ebbs; while 
I stand on the shore of the vast sea of London 
like a child that watches. And Commissioner 
Lin guards me. 

I have always been grateful to Mr. Samuel 
Butler for his eccentric theory that a woman 
wrote the Odyssey. I do not say that I 
agree with him ; if I did, I am not aware that 
any critic would attach the least importance 
to my opinion. But it is a soothing theory 
for us latter-day women. Without thinking 
it true, I love to believe it. The Odyssey, 
you will grant, is the epic of the imagination. 
It is the epic of mystery. In the Iliad, which 
is the epic of fact, everything is clear-cut, dis- 
tinct, commonplace. I do not conceive that 
a woman could have written the Iliad. Its 
theme would fail to interest her. That hard 
handplay of battle counts for nought to our 
sex. Clang of bronze sword on ringing shield 
rouses no echo in our heart or brain. It is 
a masculine poem. How practical it is, how 
cold, how everyday, how mannish ! Con- 
sidering its august age, how little it gleams 
with the glamour of antiquity ! Ulysses in 
the Iliad is just a shifty politician, an adroit 
public speaker. Achilles is just a petulant, 
ill-disciplined young warrior — I hav ^ met him 

B 2 


in London, fresh home from the Transvaal. 
The whole mighty saga is a saga of men's 
ideas, so sharp is it in its outlines, so his- 
torical, so definite. But the Odyssey ! 

Yes, I read in it clearly the fine hand of a 
woman. It has the vagueness, the elusive- 
ness, the melting, hazy charm of feminine 
craft. It thrills with mystery ; and woman 
is the mystic. Look at its glorious dimness. 
You descry its geography in veiled outline 
only, as one beholds the Paps of Jura on a 
day of sea-fog through swaying sheets of 
white cloud from a fisherman's boat on the 
Bay of Oban. It is a Celtic dreamland. 
From morning to night, in that enchanted 
poem, on and on we sail, past uncertain isles 
or dubious blue headlands, begirt with fan- 
tastic forms, and in perils of the sea more 
awesome than the real. Architects have re- 
constructed Priam's palace, I believe, from 
the description in the Iliad. That is man's 
way of describing. But who could reconstruct, 
from the rapt words of the Odyssey, Circe's 
island or the gardens of Alcinous ? Peering 
and prying Schliemann found in the battle- 
epic a whole plan of the Troad ; or, at least, 
read one into it : fancy even imagining you 
could construct a chart of the Mediterranean 


to show the homeward maze of the much- 
travelled wanderer from Ilion to Ithaca ! 
The bare idea would indicate a misconception 
of the Odyssey. For those are the seas and 
islands that never were ; they live but in the 
ghost-geography of poets and women. 

As arguments, indeed, the proofs adduced 
seem to me preposterous. It is nonsense to 
say that in the Odyssey the chief role is played 
by women. Do women's books deal exclu- 
sively, or even mainly, with their own sex ? 
Is not the Titan man, the strong, sardonic, 
woman-quelling hero, a recognised common- 
place of women's fancy ? I do not believe an 
Ithacan lady wrote the Odyssey because of the 
relative importance of Penelope and Nausicaa. 
Surely even a man might have set Penelope 
at her web, or Nausicaa at her tennis. In 
that I see nothing occult or esoterically 
feminine. Men must be aware that every 
Circe has the power of turning men into 
swine. They ought to know; they have seen 
it done daily. No, those are not the reasons 
that weigh with me. It is the wonder, the 
magic, the pu/ple mystery, of the Odyssey 
that tells to rny mind in favour of its female 
authorship. And though I know Mr. Samuel 
Butler's theory is not true, 1 thank God I 


am woman enough none the less to embrace 

But what has all this to do with my story 
— the story I am setting out in my own 
fashion to tell you ? A great deal ; and 
besides, unless you let me tell it in my own 
wayward way, I can never get through with 
it. In that respect also I hold myself true 
woman. And this is the connection. "If 
only we could have lived in those days ! " 
people say. I answer, " You are living in 
them." It is not the days, not the places, 
not the things that change, but we who 
see them otherwise. Consider, the Medi- 
terranean is the same sea to-day as when 
the Ithacan lady who wrote the Odyssey 
looked out upon its blue zones to behold 
it peopled with strange forms and wizard 
shadows. For that nameless Sappho, that 
prehistoric Charlotte Bronte, that inchoate 
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the Ionian main 
swarmed alive with Gorgons and Harpies 
as Loch Fyne with herrings. Sirens sang 
on every rock to lure the seaman ; promon- 
tories glowed red at set of sun with the 
forges of the Cyclops. You may steam down 
the prosaic Adriatic to-day in an Austrian 
Lloyd steamer — a fearsome Behemoth, bel- 


lowing, snorting, flame-breathing — and identify 
those charmed shores of Hellenic fancy, as 
laid down, with soundings, in the Admiralty 
surveys. But that is your blindness. Scylla 
and Charybdis are there as of old : 'tis you 
who turn them into the Straits of Messina. 
Polyphemus still haunts his seaward cave : 
'tis you who transform him into a custom- 
house officer. Adventures are to the ad- 
venturous. Go through the world in search 
of Calypso, and you will surely find her. 
Be modern, and you will find only Willesden 
Junction. That may suffice for you. I live 
in " those days," as all lovers oi the mystical 
have always lived in them. 

And I will go forth into the world in search 
of adventures. They are sure to come to me ; 
for faith moves mountains. In every age, 
when the Princess Cleodolind is sent out 
from the city as a prey for the dragon, some 
youthful St. George, in celestial armour, rides 
by in the nick of time, on his snow-white 
steed, and draws his trusty blade, and fights 
for her, and rescues her from the loathly 
thing. Else what were the use of faith and 
of poetry ? In every age we fashion the story 
anew in our passing manner, dressing it up 
in our own clothes, and fitting it to our 


particular modes and morals. But 'tis the 
same to the end through all disguises. The 
Greeks told it as the tale of Perseus and 
Andromeda ; they made their hero purely 
Greek, a triumphant young son of immortal 
Zeus, who rescues a beautiful princess, with 
fair nude limbs like Parian marble, from the 
devouring sea-monster. Mediaeval Italy made 
the sign of the cross, turned the son of 
Danae into a Christian martyr, and clad the 
beautiful nude maiden in clinging silk robes, 
as it would fain have clad Melian Aphrodite 
herself when it converted her image into a 
crowned Madonna. The Renaissance came, 
and Cellini unclothed her again, in his revived 
paganism, to set her polished bronze limbs, 
where every eye might see and stare, in the 
Piazza at Florence. Our modern novelists 
dress her up afresh in the princess robe of 
the day (sage green or crushed strawberry), 
and turn her loose on that slimy old dragon 
the world, till Prince Charming comes by, 
as a baronet in a tennis suit, to lay at her 
feet ten thousand a year and the title of My 
Lady. But 'tis the old tale still, and who 
lists to tell it may trick it out once more in 
his own heart's fashion. For though there 
be nothing new under the sun, the old wonder 


is there, as marvellous as ever, if you choose 
to marvel at it. Each spring brings it back, 
a perpetual miracle. 

So I set forth into the world, a Princess 
Cleodolind of the nineteenth century, ready 
to face the dragons that, as I well know, 
abound in it, and full of faith in the St. George 
who will come to rescue me. I mean to sail 
away on my Odyssey, unabashed, touching 
at such shores as may chance to beckon, yet 
I hopeful of reaching at last the realms of 

From all which you may guess that I am 
a Girton girl. 



You may guess it, I say ; for it is no part ol 
my plan to tell you. Being a woman, I throw 
out this hint to pique your curiosity. 

Let us return to the point that I was 
twenty-two, and had no employment. Com- 
missioner Lin and I were alone and friend- 

Four months earlier I had suffered a great 
loss. How great a loss I am not careful to 
assure you. It is far from my desire to make 
capital out of my inmost heart. I cannot spin 
phrases about my dead father. But by this 
time the first fierce numbness of my sorrow 
had worn away ; I was no longer a stone ; I was 
beginning to smile, and to feel the sunshine. 
A certain quicksilver light-heartedness in the 
veins of my race helps to conceal a back- 
ground of feeling. Besides, I had my live- 
lihood to earn. That is a great resource. 
The need for bread served to edge out my 



k,. * » 


grief. My first four months had been assured 
ine beforehand in the Settlement ; for we 
paid in advance, half-yearly, our Warden 
being a prudent soul who disliked bad debts, 
and preferred the safe side. But when the 
four months of my deepest mourning were 
over, it was absolutely necessary for me to 
find employment. 

How it all came about I need not inform 
you : the bank that broke, the electric light 
that failed : I was told the details in terms so 
crabbed that if I tried to repeat them I could 
but show my ignorance. 

It was not hard for me to be poor ; for in 
the Settlement we lived as the other East- 
Enders live, and I had learned from my 
match-girls how to be hungry and merry. 
But my poverty hitherto had been that of the 
amateur; I had now to learn professional 
indigence. When I shook hands with Sister 
Phyllis and Sister Agatha at the door of 
the guild, leaving Commissioner Lin in their 
charge for the moment, and went forth into 
the world to earn my living, I had six and 
elevenpence as available assets. I was a 
capitalist in my way. That formed my capital. 

" Under these circumstances," I said to 
myself, " the first thing for a prudent girl to 


do is to look out for lunch ; the second thing 
is to look out for a situation." 

I do not pretend to prevision ; on the con- 
trary, I was born to take no heed for the 
morrow. I belong to the tribe of the grass- 
hopper, not that of the ant. But I had been 
so deeply impressed by Sister Phyllis's ex- 
hortations during my last four months in the 
guild that I had taken pains to learn short- 
hand and type-writing. I did not then know 
that every girl in London can write short- 
hand, and that type-writing as an accom- 
plishment is as diffused as the piano ; else 
I might have turned my hand to some 
honest trade instead, such as millinery or 
cake-making. However, a type-writer I was, 
and a type-writer I must remain. So I set 
forth on my Odyssey by walking down the 
phantom-haunted channel of the Strand, and 
cast anchor for my first halt in an aerated 
bread shop. 

Luxury, we are told, demoralises this age, 
and (while I remain a type-writer) I am ab- 
solute to set my face against it. But a cup 
of coffee and a slice of seed-cake (not too 
luxuriously sweetened) lay well within the 
compass of my capital. I am a poor arith- 
metician, but I arrive by finger-lore at the net 


result that fourpence from six and elevenpence 
leaves six and seven. I took up an evcninj; 
paper, which some recklessly extravagant cus- 
tomer had bequeathed to his successors, and 
my eye scanned the advertisements. Hands 
that waved a signal seemed to catch my glance. 
"A sail on the horizon!" I cried to myself. 
And this is what I read — 

" Shorthand and Type-writer wanted 
(female). Legal work. — Apply Flor and 
Fingelman, 2'jn, Southampton Row." 

I felt myself already on the road to fortune. 
A glance at the date : it was to-day's paper ! 
In matters of business, promptitude is every- 
thing. I would be the first to apply. I tossed 
off my hot coffee with unbecoming haste, and, 
deeply impressed with the fact that in this 
age the struggle for existence has become one 
of the rights of woman, I hurried with all 
speed to Flor and Fingelman's. 

I was a Shorthand and Type-writer 
(female) ; and I was fully prepared to be as 
legal as they desired of me. 

I do not say that " female " is a poetical 
description. I have never heard it applied 
to Heloise or to Ophelia — not even by the 
grave-digger ; though Touchstone, to be sure, 
uses it once of Audrey. But the nineteenth 


century has a chivalry all its own, which I 
scruple to depreciate. If it speaks of us as 
females, it has given us the bicycle, and it 
almost admits that we are as fit for the fran- 
chise as the forty-shilling lodger. It puts us 
a little lower than the navvies. I call that 

I had made haste to run up Charing Cross 
Road, and when I reached Southampton Row, 
impressed by the importance of the Struggle 
for Existence, I believe I was absolute win- 
ner in the race against time for the position 
of Shorthand and Type-writer (female). 

Up two pair of stairs, where a notice led, 
I entered the Outer Office. Its keynote was 
fustiness. Three clerks (male), in seedy 
black coats, the eldest with hair the colour of 
a fox's, went on chaffing one another for two 
minutes after I closed the door, with osten- 
tatious unconsciousness of my insignificant 

No doubt they inferred that I was a can- 
didate for the post of Shorthand and Type- 
writer (female), and they treated me as such 
persons may look to be treated. Their talk 
turned upon that noble animal, the horse. 

They spoke also of the turf; by which I 
understood them to allude, not so much to 


the greensward of the downs, as to the im- 
perceptible moral turf of Fleet Street. The 
two younger were indeterminate young men, 
with straight black hair, and features modelled 
on an oyster's. As they appeared to be 
loftily unaware of my intrusion, I signified my 
presence by coughing slightly. It was the 
apologetic cough that stands for " I beg your 
pardon, but will you kindly attend to me ? " 
They did not permit even the cough, how- 
ever, to hurry them unduly. The youngest 
of the three, a pulpy youth, adjusted his 
cuffs, and completed some deep remarks upon 
two-year-old form before he turned to stare 
at me. I suppose he was kind enough to be 
satisfied with my personal appearance, for 
after a while he wheeled round on his high 
stool, and broke out with the chivalry of his 
age and class, "Well, what's your business?" 

My voice trembled a little, but I mustered 
up courage and spoke. " I have called about 
your advertisement for a Shorthand and 
Type-writer (female)." 

He eyed me up and down. I am slender, 
and, I will venture to say, if not pretty, at 
least interesting-looking. 

" How many words a minute ? " he asked 
after a long pause. 

24 thb: type-writer girl. 

I stretched truth as far as its elasticity 
would permit. " One ninety-seven," I an- 
swered with an affectation of the precisest 
accuracy. To say "Two hundred " were com- 

The pulpy youth ran his eyes over me as 
if I were a horse for sale. I was conscious 
of my little black dress and hat ; conscious 
also of a fiery patch in the centre of my 
cheek; but if you struggle for life you must ex- 
pect these episodes. " That's good enough," 
he said slowly, with a side-glance at his 
fellow-clerks. I had a painful suspicion that 
the words were intended rather for them 
than for me, and that they bore reference 
more to my face and figure than to my real 
or imagined pace per minute. 

The eldest clerk, with the foxy head, 
wheeled round, and took his turn to stare. 
He had hairy hands and large gogg'e-eyes. 

" Got your own machine ? " he asked. 


"What sort?" 

" A Barlock." 

"That'll do," he said, eyeing the rest. And 
again I detected an undercurrent of double 
meaning. He seemed to be expressing modi- 
fied satisfaction at my outer personality. 


They questioned me for some minutes with 
equal grace and charm. Then the eldest rose 
slowly. "I'll tell the governor," he mur- 
mured, and disappeared through a dingy door 
marked in large letters "Mr. Fingelman." 

In a short time he came back and 
beckoned me mysteriously. I followed him, 
trembling. He waved his hairy hand to- 
wards me as if to show me off to the 
man at the table. I felt disagreeably like 
Esther in the presence of Ahasueru.s — a fat 
and oily Ahasuerus of fifty. " This is the 
young person," he said, by way of intro- 

Ahasuerus — otherwise Mr. Fingelman — 
inspected me in turn. I quailed before his 
glance; he was a commissioner for oaths, and 
wore large round spectacles. " Had ex- 
perience ? " he asked at last. In person he 
was rotund and obviously wealthy, though 
'twas a third-rate solicitor's. 

"A little," I replied. I had made up my 
mind to say "Lots" beforehand; but when 
it came to the pinch, the ingrained bad habit 
of speaking the truth reasserted itself par- 

Ahasuerus stared. " What name ? " he 
asked, after a long stony gaze. 


I Stammered out "Juliet Appleton." 

" Age ? " 


He perused me up and down with his small 
pig's-eyes, as if he were buying a horse, scru- 
tinising my face, my figure, my hands, my 
feet. I felt like a Circassian in an Arab slave- 
market. I thought he would next proceed to 
examine my teeth. But he did not. Having 
satisfied himself as to externals, he went on 
to put me through my paces. 

" S down there," he said, pointing to a 
scat. "Have you pen and note-book?" I 
produced my stylograph. 

He grunted approbation, and dictated for a 
few minutes a short business-letter. Then 
he waved me to the type-writer. " Tran- 
scribe," he said curtly. I sat down and 

The chief clerk meanwhile stood by, with 
his hairy hands crossed in a curved attitude 
of ostentatious servility, which contrasted 
strangely with his Outer Office manner. 
When I had finished, he peered at my work, 
nodded, and handed it over to Ahasuerus. 
Ahasuerus ran his eye up and down, grunt- 
ing again. " She'll do ? " he said interroga- 


The chief clerk signed jv<?5. 

"She's the first we've seen," Ahasuerus 
interposed, with caution in liis tone. 

"Saves trouble," said the chief clerk. I 
was aware with a rush of hot blood that the 
chief clerk approved of me, and that to his 
lordly approbation (as of the Sultan's Vizier) 
I owed my appointment. 

The Oriental monarch waved his pen to- 
wards the door. " Very well," he answered. 
" Settle terms with her outside. You know 
what I give. Bother me no more with it." 
And wheeling round his swivel-chair, he 
buried himself in his writing. 

The terms the Vizier proposed were not 
wholly superior to the dreams of avarice ; but 
they were a modest starvation ; and after my 
East-End experiences, I looked for no more. 
I accepted them without demur, and went 
forth into Southampton Row an engaged 

I have a mercurial temperament. My 
spirits rise and fall as if they were consols. 
This success exalted me. I walked down 
Charing Cross Road (by no means, as a rule, 
an exhilarating thoroughfare) in the seventh 
heaven. I had justified myself before the im- 
partial tribunal of political economy. I could 

c 2 


earn my own bread — butter doubtful. In the 
Struggle for Life I had obtained a footing. 
This magnificent post of Shorthand and Type- 
writer(female) had been thrown open by adver- 
tisement to public competition. In that compe- 
tition I had won the day. My energy, my 
promptitude, the rapid resolution with which I 
had gulped down my coffee, burnt my tongue, 
and rushed off to Southampton Row, had se- 
cured for me the prize of a modest starvation. 
I had proved myself fittest by the mere fact of 
survival. Matthew Arnold had taught me, 
indeed, with much sweet reasonableness, that 
there was not any proper reason for my exist- 
ing; but I like to exist. The sole remaining 
question was. Could I adapt myself to my en- 
vironment ? If so, I had fulfilled the whole 
gospel of Darwinism. 



It was a wrench to tear myself away from my 
old men and women in the Isle of Dogs, for I 
truly loved them. The operation left a scar 
that was slow to heal. I felt I did them good : 
my visits cheered them, unlike the curate's ; 
my whimsical talk broke the monotony of old 
age and the East-End. But doing good is a 
luxury, and I was now face to face with the 
strict necessity of earning my livelihood. Yet 
hope lies still at the bottom of Pandora's box. 
Though I had but six and sevenpence in the 
world, and starvation wages, I started blithely 
to my work at Flor and Fingelman's. 

I had found a room meanwhile to which my 
purse consented. The normal difficulties of 
lodging-hunting had been aggravated in my 
case by the need for finding a house where I 
should not be separated from Commissioner 
Lin ; which made a back-yard a necessity : 
but I succeeded in surmounting them. Com- 


missioner Lin, I may say, to allay your fears, 
is my mongrel Chinese bull-pup. Like Ulys- 
ses, 1 have a dog ; he is ugly, but n; beauty, 
and, oh, such a dear ! I may starve, but the 
Commissioner shares my last crust. 

Geographically, my post was in the Outer 
Office. Early each morning 1 went in to the 
inner recess of Shushan the palace to receive 
Ahasuerus's instructions, and to take down 
from his royal lips my shorthand notes, which 
I afterwards expanded on the type-writer in 
the anteroom. Ahasuerus was graciously 
pleased to like me. I found favour, also, in the 
eyes of the Grand Vizier ; he was good enough 
to say my work was intelligent. I had doubts 
in my own mind as to the Vizier's competence 
to form an opinion on this head ; but was he 
not a man — a vote-wielding citizen, empowered 
to take his share (vicariously) in the counsels 
of the nation ? and was not I but a Shorthand 
and Type-writer (female) ? I bowed to the 
wisdom of the superior sex, and answered 
with a modest blush that I rejoiced to have 
earned his approval. 

The morning and afternoon were taken up 
in ei'panding letters and copying drafts of 
documents. Their style was execrable. The 
principal verb adroitly concealed itself: the 


principal adjective was usually " aforesaid." 
Now, regarded as an epithet, I find "afore- 
said " colourless. Its monotony bored me. I 
suggested to Ahasuerus that his prose might 
be enriched by a greater variety of graphic 
adjectives such as "amethystine," "prismatic," 
"opalescent," "empyrean," or even "colos- 
sal ; " but he stared at me coldly, and replied 
in a curt voice that legal phraseology was 
necessarily limited. The Grand Vizier, also, 
cavalierly rejected my mild suggestions for an 
enlarged vocabulary. He contended that I 
should model my composition on Chitiy on 
Contract. He was right, of course ; but I 
found the iteration of " provided always " in 
that well of legal English intensely irksome. 
The anteroom where I clicked was shared 
by the Grand Vizier and the two other clerks. 
They talked incessantly ; I was forced to con- 
tinue my transcription without interruption, 
in spite of their voices. I will admit that 
their discourse, as such, by no means dis- 
tracted me, in virtue either of its intrinsic 
attractiveness or of the nature of its subjects. 
It circled chiefly round the noble quadruped, 
with divergences on Rugby and Association 
football. I did not gather that the Vizier and 
his satellites knew much at first hand about 



the breed of race-horses, nor could they 
have distinguished with ease between a fet- 
lock and a cannon-bone. They loved sport 
from afar : they were platonically horsey. 
But they were diligent students of a daily 
journal in the interest of manly pastimes : and 
they extracted from its pages many charming 
speculations as to the numerical chance of 
first and second favourites. They also spoke 
freely of the ladies of the music-hall. As their 
tongues rippled on, with peculiar London 
variants on the vowels of our native language, 
my type-writer continued to go click, click, 
click, till I was grateful for its sound as a 
counter-irritant to their inanity. 

That click, click, click became to me like 
music — if only because it drowned the details 
of the Lewes Spring Meeting. I saw in it all 
a trail of Ibsenesque atavism. The horse was 
the sacred beast of the English in the days of 
Woden, and, in spite of St. Augustine and 
John Wesley, his worship still survives, its 
festivals attracting thousands of pilgrims each 
year to the centres of the cult at Epsom and 
Newmarket. Devotees may be known by 
their badge, a pink paper, which blushes 
itself, and is a cause of blushing in others. 

Another peculiarity of the Outer Office was 



its richness in dust — the dust specific to a 
solicitor's premises. I thinl<, in this age of 
sanitation, I have kept my head tolerably un- 
prejudiced on the subject of germs ; I do not 
speak evil of bacteria with the reckless extra- 
vagance of the world at large ; I am prepared 
to live and let live ; nor do 1 deny to the 
bacilli of typhoid fever the common right to 
the struggle for existence. But the bacilli 
at Flor and Fingelman's, I must admit, were 
obtrusively aggressive. They carried the 
war into Africa. They flew about me visibly 
whenever I lifted a book ; they settled in 
myriads on my poor black dress ; they in- 
vaded my hair, and required to be daily dis- 
lodged by violent hostilities. The three clerks 
seemed to me to disregard them altogether ; 
and when I ventured timidly to suggest a 
duster, they were almost as horrified as when 
I proposed to vary the bald language of a writ 
by the introduction of a few graceful chroma- 
tic adjectives. Fustiness and mustiness are 
part of the profession, it seems ; you must no 
more attempt to sweep the Augean stables 
than to carry out that other Herculean task 
— the simplifying and codification of the law 
of England. 

For three mornings and three afternoons I 


endured Flor and Fingelman's. It was a ' 
question of self versus environment. I am a 
unit of the proletariat, and dear Sister Agatha 
had impressed upon me often, with lier sad, 
sweet smile, the fundamental truth that beg- 
gars must not be choosers. So I continued 
to click, click, click, like a machine that I was, 
and to listen as little as possible to the calcu- 
lated odds upon King Arthur for the Ascot 
Cup, till I was tired of the subject. On the 
fourth day, however, the rebel in my blood 
awoke. Not for nothing had my fathers 
fought at Lexington. I felt I must strike one 
blow for freedom. The aforesaid office failed 
to respond to the needs of the party of the 
first part. I went out to lunch, half resolved 
in the whirligig I call my mind never to go 
back again. 

It was not the Grand Vizier, with his hairy 
hands, his goggle eyes, and his false diamonds; 
though a certain insolent condescension in the 
creature's manner made me shrink from his 
presence. It was not the junior clerks ; though 
the tone of voice with which they addressed 
me as " Miss " reminded me of the accent 
in which I had often heard men of their type 
bespeak a defenceless barmaid ; while their 
demeanour varied from the haughty to the 


condescending. It was Ahasuerus himself 
whose Oriental leer drove me from the office. 
I felt sure Ahasuerus considered his manner 
killing — a three-tailed bashaw, with a natural 
gift of captivating Circassians. His smile was 
the smile that knows itself irresistible. He 
had not as yet ventured anything rude to me ; 
but I scented prospective rudeness in the way 
he watched me come in and out — the way he 
beamed on me benignly, with his small pig's- 
eyes, as who should say, " See how bland and 
how pleasant I am ; you must rejoice, mere 
female, to have secured the favour of so genial 
a gentleman, who revels in semi-detached 
affluence at Balham." I fled from his oily face, 
assured that the law was not my proper 
sphere. I would diverge into paths of more 
commonplace business. 

All this time I had been living upon Capi- 
tal. If you judge such conduct imprudent, 
remember that I could hardly have lived upon 
its interest. My six and sevenpence was 
almost spent. I owed my landlady (at the 
single room I had taken) for bread and rent. 
I had nothing left for my own food or for Mr. 
Commissioner. The outlook was serious. 
Dimly aware of failure in the Struggle for 
Life — inability to succeed in Adaptation to the 


Environment — I retired for lunch to a little 
shop close by, whose merits the Grand Vizier 
had from the first impressed upon me. 

At the table by my side sat two middle- 
aged men. They were talking earnestly. I 
detected at once in the mellow tone of the 
better-looking of tlie two that he was a Cam- 
bridge man and a political economist. 'J'he 
Moral Sciences Tripos has its special aroma. 
After the rippling tittle-tattle of the noble 
quadruped I was glad to listen even to the 
voice of economics. I strained my ears. It 
was pleasant to hear educated men speak 
again. And their talk was full of interest. 

"You have been to see them? "the first 
voice said. 

" Yes," the Cambridge man answered. " It 
is an interesting experiment, though fore- 
doomed to failure. They say they want to try 
anarchy in practice. They have bought ten 
acres of wild land very cheap ; they are 
getting it into tillage ; and they mean to 
manage it upon Kropotkine's system of in- 
tensive culture." 

Intensive culture ! I saw at once what that 
meant. What a capital plan ! Till the land 
to the utmost, so as to make the largest 
possible amount of food or roses come out of 



it. And anarchists, too ! Why, I was born 
an anarchist. Never could I endure being 
ordered about by anj one. After Flor and 
Fingehnan's — click, clici<, click, all day — what 
a vista of Eden ! I sat a postulant at the 
gate of that Paradise. Just to go out into the 
fields and till them anarchically ! 

"And have they no organisation ?" 

" None at all. He told me it was a band 
of brothers. I asked him by what rule they 
worked. He said each man or woman 
laboured when he or she chose ! If he didn't 
feel inclined he left off for that day and sat in 
the sun, basking. They cultivate in common ; 
each member of the community receives food 
and clothes ; and at the end of the week, if 
any surplus remain, they divide it between 
them by way of pocket-money." 

" Then it acts, so far." 

" Yes, apparently. But 'tis new. They 
look healthy enough, though pallid, and they 
are certainly enthusiastic. I asked Rothen- 
burg how he liked it ; he said it was delight- 
ful — ten thousand times better than being a 
tailor in Paris." 

I could no longer restrain myself. A 
caprice seized me. I leaned across the table. 
" Pardon me," I said, " but may I venture 


to ask, as an anarchist in the grain, where 
shall I find this Utopia, this Eldorado of 
anarchy ? " 

The Cambridge man smiled. 

" Near Horsham," he answered. " But — 
excuse curiosity — are you really an anar- 
chist ? " 

" I will join them ! " I cried, clasping my 
hands. " I have every qualification. I am 
alone in the world, and penniless — splendid 
material for anarchy. Such idyllic anarch}^, 
too ! Do they receive mere women ? " 

" I think," the Cambridge man replied, 
"they would be charmed to take you. But 
remember, they are uncultivated — the raw 
material of a state, rough working men and 
women. Go down and see them by all means. 
But when you have inspected their home I 
venture to hazard a guess that you will decide 
it is not meant for ladies." 

" I am young," I answered ; " I have toler- 
able strength and abundant energy. Misfor- 
tunes are nothing if one takes them in the 
spirit of camping out. Hardships cease to be 
hardships when you talk of them as roughing 
it. After all, it is only what we voluntarily 
do at a picnic up the river. At least, I will 
go down and interview your anarchists." 


He scribbled their precise address on the 
back of an envelope, with a smile for my en- 
thusiasm. I went home to my solitary room 
at once, and sat down to my private and par- 
ticular Barlock — the same on which I am in- 
diting these present memoirs — to write out 
my resignation to Flor and Fingelman. 

" Gentlemen, 

"WHEREAS I, the undersigned, have 
worked for three days and upwards, be the 
same more or less, to my great discomfort, in 
your dingy, stingy, musty, and fusty office ; and 
WHEREAS I have found the post of Short- 
hand and Type-writer (female) which you have 
deigned to bestow upon me, in the aforesaid 
office, highly disagreeable to my mind and 
brain, owing as well to the impurity of the air 
as to the dulness and monotony of the terms 
employed in it ; and WHEREAS I am now 
desirous of seeking other and more congenial 
employment elsewhere than in the aforesaid 
dinginess, stinginess, mustiness, and fustiness, 
as herein designated, NOW THEREFORE, 
This Indenture Witnesseth and know all men 
by these presents, that I have made up my 
mind not to return to your messuage or tene- 
ment this afternoon, nor on any subsequent 


date, but to relinquish entirely the aforesaid 
post of Shorthand and Type-writer (female) 
with all and sundry the emoluments or salaries 
thereto pertaining, and to say good-bye to you, 
the aforesaid Flor and Fingelman, and to your 
Grand Vizier and other faithful satellites. In 
witness whereof I have hereto set my hand 
and seal, this twenty-first day of May, in the 
year of our Lord, &c., &c. 


I put it into an envelope and dropped it 
into the post ; then I turned again on my 
way, a Free Woman. 

Free, but penniless. 

Hurrah for anarchy ! flowery, bowery 
anarchy, in a careless-ordered garden, run 
wild with eglantine ! Could a Peri hope to 
storm that Eden ? 



I PROWLED along the Strand, in quest of an 
inspiration. You will readil}' conceive that 
the situation was serious. I had disbursed 
my last coin for lunch that morning. True, 
I had still my bicycle ; and by its aid I might 
set off to join my unknown brothers, the 
anarchists, near Horsham. But my heart 
smote me, for I had not wherewith to pay 
my landlady. Had I worked out my week 
with Ahasuerus, no doubt I might have 
settled her bill, and gone on my way hon- 
estly. But I could not leave her in the lurch ; 
nor, indeed, could I set out without the con- 
tents of my modest portmanteau. My effects 
must go with me. Thus the position teemed 
with difficulties. I had an aunt in London, 
of course ; I suppose not even the most desti- 
tute are ever wholly deprived of the solace of 
a maiden aunt in London. Conscience sug- 
gested that in such a crisis I ought to consult 




her. But fortunately I belong to a generation 
which has analysed conscience away. " Go 
to the aunt," said Duty. " Stop away," said 
Inclination. And Inclination, as usual, won 
in a canter — I might almost say. Inclination 
walked over. If you doubt that these meta- 
phors are becoming on a woman's lips, you 
must recollect that my style had been suffering 
for three days from the enforced proximity of 
the Grand Vizier, his satraps, and the noble 

I could not go to the aunt. She was the 
average woman of the small fixed income ; 
prosaic, stagnant, serenely literal ; a placid 
pool that reflects its surroundings. It was 
her fixed belief that everything I did was in 
equal parts foolish and wicked. No doubt 
she was right ; but her arguments vexed me. 
" It is quite impossible for a young lady to do 
so," she said about many actions which I 
knew from experience to be not only possible 
but actual. So I avoided the aunt, and set 
my face toward the shop-windows for light 
and guidance. I found it, of course. Faith 
is always rewarded, or I like to think so. At 
a corner shop, devoted to the sale of more 
or less genuine bric-a-brac ^ I saw in the 
window a charming little Fra Angelico, 



almost a replica of a miniature I remem- 
bered to have noted at the Vatican. Whether 
it was authentic or not I do not presume to 
decide ; who am I that I should give myself 
the airs of a Morelli ? But its naivete^ its 
grace, its frank purity of colour, were obvious 
at once, even to the eye of a woman. The 
picture represented what is called in art the 
Charity of St. Nicholas. Through an open 
door you see into the home of a poor noble- 
man. 'Tis a dainty interior, of the age when 
drab had not wholly ousted the primary hues. 
In the background his three starving daugh- 
ters lie snugly in bed — a trio of innocent 
maidens, with pretty blonde heads of infantile 
guilelessness, laid on white pillows, between 
dimity curtains. In the foreground the noble- 
man their father is seated, the picture of 
despair, in a long vermilion robe and a brown 
study ; without, by a grated window, the dear 
young saint himself, in Florentine hose, with 
a sleeveless jerkin, stands timidly on tip-toe, 
in the very act of dropping three purses of gold 
as dowries for the maidens through the open 
casement. The story is told with the pellucid 
simplicity of early Tuscan art ; no airs and 
graces, but just the bare outline of facts which 
it behoves you to know ; — these girls are 

D 2 



poor ; their father is at his wits' end ; and 
3'onder amiable young gentleman, in crimson 
and puce, has come to their rescue, like a 
gallant Christian, willi purses of gold very fat 
and opulent. 

I stood long and looked at it. It was so 
archly engaging. The clear-cut outlines, the 
translucent hues, the sweet old-world direct- 
ness, the stor3'-telling faculty, each charmed 
and beguiled me. "After all," I said to my- 
self, " St. Nicholas, not St. George, is the 
saint for me. My dragon is povert3^ St. 
George for princesses ; St. Nicholas for the 
poor and portionless maiden ! " I gazed at 
him long, with affectionate eyes ; then I went 
on my way towards the National Galler}'-, 
strengthened and comforted. 

Have you found out the true use of the 
National Gallery, I wonder ? On three days 
in the week the British nation throws those 
stately rooms open, free, to any woman who 
chooses to enter them. I use them as my 
drawing-room. You get a comfortable chair 
to sit upon for nothing; you get pictures to 
look at ; and in winter the gallery is heated 
by flues, over which you car stand and warm 
your feet gratis. I went ir on this critical 
afternoon of my history, n^t onl^^ for rest, but 


in search of St. Nicholas — St. Nicliolas of 
Myra — St. Nicholas of Bari — St. Nicholas, 
the giver of dowries to damsels. My dear 
father had been a lover of Italian art, and had 
taught me betimes the legends of the saints, 
without which Fra Angelico and Benozzo 
Gozzoli talk a strange tongue to you. I was 
certain now that St. Nicholas, not St. George, 
was my predestined patron. He was so good 
to the poor, and especially to maidens. In 
many pictures on those walls I beheld him 
as of old, in his bishop's robes, benign and 
benevolent, a model of suavity, holding the 
three golden balls which typify the three fat 
purses of gold he threw in at the window to 
the starving daughters of the nobleman of 
Myra. He was the saint of the oppressed, 
the enslaved, the suffering. If knighthood 
had its St. George, serfdom had its St. 
Nicholas. I saw him again, with his three 
spheres of gold, traced by the hand of 
Raphael in the Blenheim Madonna ; a cour- 
teous old gentleman here, bland and mild, 
and very sweet of feature. I saw him in 
many other less famous pictures, a friend in 
need, ever gentle and helpful, the patron of 
children, of the distressed, of the storm-tossed. 
I saw him in many guises, painted for the 



most part in what, in default of exact know- 
ledge, I will call a chasuble, but always as the 
deliverer. My heart went forth to him. 
" Holy Nicholas," I murmured, " you were 
my father's friend ; be my friend as well ! 
Stand by me, and protect me ! " 

I issued once more into the phantom- 
crowded Strand. Below, the streaming street 
was full of those hurrying, scurrying men 
with black bags, bound as ever for the Un- 
known. But above — I lifted my eyes, and 
there, clear against the sky, I beheld — the 
three golden balls of St. Nicholas. 



I DREW a deep breath. He was the poor 
man's saint; his symbol has descended to the 
poor man's banker. 

Yet my confidence after all was not all 
misplaced. St. Nicholas, at a pinch, would 
provide my dowry. 

It flashed across me at a stroke what those 
golden balls meant. Never before had I 
divined their meaning — their intimate con- 
nection with my newly-chosen patron. 1 
caught at it now clearly. Nicholas, I knew, 
was the saint of the people — the saint of the 
labourer who toils for daily bread, of the 
fisherman who struggles with the stormy sea, 
of the orphan, of the slave, of the child, the 
captive, the prisoner, the unfortunate. No 
wonder, then, that his golden balls have sur- 
vived as the badge of that generous profession 
which freely lends to all the poor who leave 
a pledge behind. 


I accepted the omen. Tempest-tossed as I 
was, my precious type-writer might save me 
for the day from the present distresses. I 
hurried back to my altic in a street off Soho, 
packed it up in its case, and carried it with 
difficulty in my own small arms to the shrine 
of St. Nicholas. 

My errand, I grant, was new, and repug- 
nant. But necessity, like our magistrates, 
knows no law. 1 will not pretend that 1 
passed those dubious portals without a flush 
of shame. Still, I passed them bravely. 

" How much ?" asked the acolyte. 

I was inexperienced in the ritual of the 
sordid temple. " Three pounds ? " I queried 

He cut me short with a gesture of con- 
tempt. " We could do thirty shillings." 

"I paid twenty pounds for it," I murmured. 

He shrugged his shoulders. "An error of 
judgment, I should say. Thirty shillings. 
Do you take it ? " 

I was anxious to escape from the squalid 
place. Bundles of shabby clothes in square 
pigeon-holes daunted me. "I accept," I said, 
gasping. He counted out the money, and 
handed me a ticket. 

I fled, like one followed by a roaring wild 

VIVE i.'anakciue! 49 

beast. No quicker flies the Arimaspian whom 
the gryphon pursues. Nor did I pause or 
halt till I reached my own bower. Safe back 
in that stronghold, I bolted and locked the 
door, and washed the pollution off me in an 
orgy of cold water. 

Then the dignity of womanhood reasserted 
itself. I sat back in the one arm-chair, and 
reflected. A freak is dear to my soul. I would 
pay my weekly bill before starting, carry my 
knapsack with me, and engage the room for 
another week in advance, in case the anar- 
chists should chance to prove too anarchic 
for my taste. And after that, who dare call 
me imprudent ? 'Tis the habit of twenty-two 
to burn its boats. When it takes measures 
for preserving them, you should give it credit 
for singular forethought. 

I had still my faithful bicycle. I rose be- 
times next morning, and endued myself in 
my cycling costume, which, like all else about 
nie_(I trust), is rational. The Commissioner 
and I stole silently down the stairs. Before 
London was well awake we had left West- 
minster Bridge behind us in the haze, and 
were off on the open road, on our way towards 
Horsham, two palmers bent for the Holy 
Land of Anarch3^ 



How light and free I felt ! When man 
first set woman on two wheels with a pair of 
pedals, did he know, I wonder, that he had 
rent the veil of the harem in twain ? I doubt 
it ; but so it was. A woman on a bicycle has 
all the world before her where to choose ; 
she can go where she will, no man hindering. 
I felt it that brisk May morning as I span 
down the road, with a Tam o' Shantcr on my 
head, and my loose hair travelling after me 
like a Skye terrier. 

"This," thought I to myself, "is truly 
my Odyssey. To play at being a latter-day 
Ulysses in London, among those crowded 
streets, is like a child's game — too much make- 
believe. But mounted here on the ship of 
the high-road, scudding gaily down hill, or 
luffing against head-winds on a steep upward 
slope, I feel myself the heroine of a modern 
sea epic. As I coast by narrow straits of 
hedge-bordered lane, round some lumbering 
cart, I steer with care betwixt headland and 
whirlpool. Siren inns hang out signs to 
becken me into port ; piratical carts, bucca- 
neering drays, skidding fast down long slopes, 
strive to crush me as they pass like living 
Symplegades. In perils oft, I yet feel the 
fresh wind in my teeth, and see the foam 

VIVE l'anarciiie! 51 

of May break over hawthorn promontories. 
Troy lies behind ; in front of me beckons 
the peaceful Ithaca of my anarchist settle- 

The road, indeed, was a pleasant one. 
Lying at first among suburban quarters, pink 
with blossom at that perfect moment of the 
year, and heavy with lilac, it grew greener 
by degrees as it stretched out to the rising 
plain of Surrey and then swelled up slowly 
into the great breaker of the chalk downs. 
That huge wave of land rises in a long curve 
on the side towards London, but curls over 
abruptly by Box Hill and Dorking, like a 
billow that has hardened in the act of break- 
ing. My way led me through a deep gorge 
that cuts the slope of this ridge at right 
angles, beside a wandering stream, as though 
one stroke of some great magician's wand 
had cleft a way for it through the barrier. 
The ravine is bordered to the left by a cliff- 
like edge, overgrown witli juniper bushes. 
They call it the Vale of Mickleham. Spring 
had put on her best frock for my visit. I 
rode at a good pace. Commissioner Lin toiled 
behind, with his tongue out. Then we broke 
into the open, where a steeple showed the 
way, and through a billowy common, crest 



after trough alternately, dotted thick with 
holly-trees, across the Weald of Sussex. A 
still., pearly-pale sky hung over the misty 
level. Despondent donkeys munched furze- 
tops and mused pessimism. Trains dashed 
under bridges with long streamers of steam, 
as I rode over them unabashed — huge mon- 
sters of burnished brass, snorting death from 
their throats, such as would have terrified 
the timid Achaean sailors. But I took no 
heed of them — I, the braver daughter of an 
iron age, trained to disregard dragons of 
that mechanical sort, and to fear only those 
against whom St. Nicholas is potent — I had 
seen one but yesterday on Margaritone's 
panel. The horses that passed over by my 
side reared and quivered at the ungainly 
monster; but my undaunted steel palfrey, 
himself a scion of the iron age, showed no 
sign of weakness. Or if he trembled at all, 
'twas something wrong in the gearing. 

A mile or two from Horsham I diverged, 
as directed, down a cross-road to the left. 
'Twas a level iane in champaign country, 
bordered by a low hedge of close-clipped 
maple. The fields were of leaden clay — 
so much I saw where they were ploughed 
— muddy, and all but impassable in wet 

♦ VIVE l'anarchie ! ' 53 

weather, to meet which state of morass every 
cottage was approached by a small paved 
causeway of flags, giving a singularly distinc- 
tive note to the district. Many such I passed, 
each built of pale red brick, each tiled with 
mossy tiles, and each approached through a 
square of front garden by its town-like pave- 
ment. The lanes were a maze, running aim- 
lessly hither and thither. One after another, 
as I tried it, led me back by circumvolutions 
to a rustic Clapham Junction, the centre of 
Nowhere. Judge if I was nonplussed. 

At one of the cottages I reined up at last, 
and, leaning from my saddle, called out to a 
boy who was weeding the front patch : " Can 
you tell me where I shall find the anarchist 
settlement ? " 

The boy looked up, taken aback It was 
clear that the rationality of my dress as- 
tonished him. And, indeed, 'tis so rare to be 
rational in this world that I was not surprised 
at his surprise. He stared at me with a 
frank provincial stare ; I am not sure that 
he did not design heaving half a brick at 
me, in recognition of m.y originality. But he 
contented himself with a few contumelious 
epithets, which did not hurt me. I flung him 
a penny ; this softened his heart. He an- 


swered, after a pause, " I guess you mean 
them furriners." 

The American blood in me was flattered 
by that " I guess." Thus my ancestors must 
have spoken here in Sussex long ago, before 
they went over in the Mayflower, to fight 
in due time at Lexington. It is a point of 
honour with all Massachusetts folk to have 
gone over in the Mayflozvcr. She was a sloop 
of 1 80 tons, and must have carried thousands 
of steerage passengers. I am not sure about 
the tonnage, but there can be no doubt as to 
the passengers. 

" They are probably foreigners," I replied, 
coming back to this century. "At any rate, 
they are new-comers. And I was told they 
had settled down somewhere near Pinfold." 

He waved his hand vaguely towards the 
quarter of the sunrise, and gave me directions 
of complicated topography. But he added, 
after a moment for internal reflection, " They 
bain't the sort o' folk for the likes o' you to 

"Thank you," I answered, "I am an 
anarchist myself" And I spurred on my 
mount, round the corner where he directed 

The day, which was brisk when I started, 


had become by this time hot and windless, 
and the sun beat mercilessly. After various 
intricate twists and turns, ill-deciphered from 
uncertain instructions, I found myself at last 
by the side of a pond which formed the one 
fixed point in my guide's geography. He had 
called it " a horse-pond." It was a pretty 
little pool : tall glossy weeds grew lush by 
its edge ; a grey-leaved willow drooped into 
it ; Naiads lurked among the broad green 
disks of the water-lilies at its farther end. 
I was glad it was so taking. I accepted it as 
an omen of success in my wild-goose chase. 
From the first I was not without misgivings 
of my own wisdom in thus seeking to frater- 
nise with unknown anarchist brethren. But 
I knew how often fortune brings in some 
boats that are not steered ; and I took the 
beauty of this " horse-pond " as a foretaste of 
what I should find in the anarchist settle- 

An old woman, with sleeves tucked up and 
the parboiled arms of a laundress, stood near 
the door of a new brick cottage hard by. 
"Can you tell me," I called out, "where I 
can find Rothenburg ? " 

I omitted the Mr., as my Cambridge friend 
had warned me that that harmless prefix 


acted on your anarchist like the picador's 
dart on the bulls of Andalusia. 

" Rottenborough ?" the old woman an- 
swered, transforming his name, as is the wont 
of her class, into something significant in her 
own language. " He's down yonder by the 
new glass-house." And r]\c pointed with her 
hand towards a deep clay 1- -Id just behind 
her cottage. 

I dismounted, and led my bicj'^cle gently 
through the mud. There was no eglantine. 
At the far end of the field, under shelter of a 
hedge which backed it to the north, I saw a 
slender, pale-faced young man in a blue Conti- 
nental blouse, digging a trench with a pick, 
to whose use he was evidently but little 

" Are you Rothenburg ? " I asked, in 

He looked up and smiled. My costume 
took his fancy. " I am," he answered in the 
same language, but with a marked Alsatian 
accent. " What do you want with me, com- 

" I am an anarchist," I said, simply, rush- 
ing straight to the point. " I wish to join 
your community." 

He laid down his pick, and came up out of 

' VIVE l'anarchie ! ' 57 

the trench. I could see him better now — 
a pallid, anaemic young man, with a high 
narrow forehead, watery restless eyes, thin 
yellow hair, and twitching hands that played 
nervously all the time with a shadowy mous- 
tache. I judged him at sight the very type of 
an eager-hearted ineffectual enthusiast — a man 
born to failure as the sparks fly upward. 

He looked me over, all surprised. "We 
are a party of working men," he objected, at 
last ; "artisans, sempstresses, labourers. We 
do not desire or court the aid of the bour- 
geois ^ 

Now, I can endure most things, but not 
to be called a bottrgcoisc. I coloured a little, 
I suppose ; at any rate, I answered, " I am 
an oitvricrc myself. I have nothing to do 
with the bourgeoisie. I have ridden down from 
London to link my fate with 3'ours. Are 
you the head of this colony ? " 

He flushed somewhat in turn — or rather, 
faint streaks of pink stole over that bloodless 
face. "We have no head," he answered. 
" We are thorough-going anarchists. Equality 
is our aim. Since when do you belong to 
our party ? " 

" Since I was born," I retorted, boldly. 
" 1 am anarchic by nature. Wherever there 



is a government, I am always against it. Let 
me join your band — and I promise dis- 

He eyed me suspiciously. This confession 
of faith seemed rather to disturb than to 
reassure him. He paused a moment. " How 
did you hear of us ?" 

"Casually, in an eating-house in London, 
from a Cambridge economist who had been 
here to see you. When he spoke of you, 
I thought to myself, ' These are the people 
I want. I recognise my kind. I must go 
and join them.'" 

" Ha ! He was a co-operator, A voluntary 
co-operator. But he had not the whole truth. 
If he sent you here, you may be wrong — you 
are perhaps a Marxian ? " 

1 perceived that there was an orthodoxy 
and a heterodoxy of anarchism ; in which case, 
of course, I should be on the heterodox side, 
"You will find me sound," I said, seeking to 
temporise, " in my uncompromisingly anarchic 
anarchism of anarchy." I thought I could 
hardly be more mutinous than that. If 'twas 
rebellion they wanted, I was honestly pre- 
pared to rebel against the rebels. 

He drew out a cheap gun-metal watch. 
" It is dinner-time," he said, temporising in 

VIVE l'anarchie! 59 

return. " The comrades will have assembled. 
Come up and discuss. We will see whether 
they are content to accept you as a com- 

I confess I was disappointed. This seemed 
painfully close to a legislative assembly — at 
the very least to a folk-moot or parish council. 
Did they mean to decide things by base show 
of hands ? And if so, wherein did your 
anarchist differ from the ordinary coercive 
governmental authority ? 

In the Utopia I had framed for myself, 
every man (or woman) did that which was 
right in his own eyes — without prejudice 
to his equal freedom to do that which was 
wrong, if he chanced to be so minded. Here, 
I saw just a common joint-stock company — 
Anarchy, Limited. 

E 2 



We assembled in the large room of the first 
cottage I had seen — a sort of bare, bald dining- 
hall, big enough to feed some twenty or thirty 
souls, and ugly enough to take away their 
appetite for ever. Its architect's name, I 
would conjecture, was Jeremiah. 

"A new comrade," Rothcnburg said, wav- 
ing his hand towards me not ungracefully. 
"Let us dine first, and consider her after- 

This was an awkward introduction. I 
sat down to eat and drink, painfully con- 
scious that the eyes of anarchic Europe were 
upon me. My long unbroken ride had given 
me a keen edge for food ; still, apart from 
their scrutiny, I confess I eat with an under- 
current of disgust. The meat and bread were 
wholesome; but I suspected their cleanliness. 
The napery, too, was coarse and cried for 
the laundress. However, if one chooses to 


herd with anarchists, one must not be too 
particular on matters of diet. I eat a hearty 
dinner, in spite of my doubts, and even drank 
some sour red wine ; for they were not 
EngHsh enough yet to relish our beer, of 
which I was not sorry. 

Replenished by dinner, they drew apart, 
discussing me in low tones and in cosmopoli- 
tan languages. I fancy I detected the ring 
both of Czech and Yiddish — tongues of which 
I do not profess an intimate knowledge, though 
m}* East-End experiences had given me a 
distant nodding acquaintance with either. 
Most of them were Austrians (assorted) or 
else subjects of the Tsar, living here for their 
health, because they preferred England as a 
place of residence to that part of the Russian 
territory which is called Siberia. From time 
to time they appealed to me on some point 
of my history — where was I born, of what 
nationality, why did I wish to join them ? I 
answered as best I might, though the ordeal 
was severe. It was bad enough to stand as 
Esther before Ahasuerus, but I realised now 
that I was set to perform the part of Vashti 
before a whole court of critical anarchists. 

At last Rothenburg, still fumbling with his 
moustache, had the happy thought to ask me 



my name. When I said "Juliet Appleton " I 
saw that it moved them. The fact that I was 
a Juliet gave food to their fancy. Each man 
drew himself up and stroked his chin with the 
very air of a Romeo. Even the women smiled 
— for there were women among them, some 
four or five, with pretty curly-haired children. 
Then they began to instruct me in the doc- 
trines of their sect. I was sworn to eternal 
friendship with all and sundry. The intricate 
Eleusinian mysteriesof anarchy were explained 
to me, as catechumen, in Alsatian French and 
Bohemian German. I answered in such dia- 
lects of either tongue as I had at command. 
Mj' profession of faith appeared to give satis- 
faction, especially when, prompted by Rothen- 
burg, I renounced Karl Marx and all his ways, 
and embraced with fervour the true faith of 
Bakunin. Who or what Bakunin was I had 
not an idea : but I made up in zeal what I 
lacked in understanding. 

It began to dawn on me that sectarianism 
is of the nature of man, and that all things 
tend to fall into my doxy and your doxy. 

At last Rothenburg arrived at what he 
evidently considered a crucial point in his 
catechism. " You understand, of course, that 
you must not form an idolatrous attachment 


to any one of the comrades, to the exclusion 
of the others ?" 

I glanced around me at the dozen sorry 
specimens of the male of my species there 
ranged before me, and felt convinced at sight 
I could safely engage not to idolise exces- 
sively any one among them. And I said so. 

This assurance appeared to give the com- 
munity boundless satisfaction. They turned 
next to my bicycle, which was a nice little 
machine — the nicest in England, indeed, like 
everyone else's. One or two of them were 
kind enough to accept my full membership at 
once by trying to ride it. I am tolerably tall 
for a woman, while the comrades, as I learned 
to call them, were for the most part under- 
sized town-bred working men, of the skimpy 
order. Thus my machine just fitted them ; 
they did not even require to shift the pedals. 
I showed them how to stick on, correcting the 
excessive line of grace in their initial curves : 
this obviously pleased them, and I think they 
formed a high idea of the new comrade her- 
self and more especially of the property she 
brought into the Community. They had not 
an equal opinion of Mr. Commissioner. 

So I settled down at once as a full-fledged 


Figure to yourself a group ol" nuked cutlages, 
vvitli bald slate roofs un tempered by the 
years — no moss, no house-leeks — dropped 
down at random in a sticky clay cabbage-field 
— and you see our colony. 

My first business was to behold where I 
was to abide. The rotund old lady whom I 
had found at the door of the first messuage or 
tenement took me round to my cubicle ; for 
they had a nomenclature of their own, suited 
to the ways of anarchists. 'Twas in a brand- 
new building of pale pink brick — a sort of 
anaemic brick, which bore the same relation 
to healthy red brickiness that Rothcnburg's 
complexion bore to normal humanity. It was 
vastly modern, like the views of its builders ; 
it also betrayed the same painful lack of 
aesthetic tendencies. It cried for creepers. 
In front of it stretched a patch of utilitarian 
potato-ground. I would have preferred holly- 
hocks. There was no hall or passage : the 
door opened abruptly into a small parlour; 
behind lay three bedrooms of the minutest 
dimensions. Mine was tiny. However, I 
. have always inculcated kindness to animals, 
and am not conscious of the faintest desire to 
swing a cat ; so it sufficed very well for me. 
The bath entailed difficulties, no other anar- 



chist being a slave to the liabit: but a wooden 
water-tub and economy of space speedily over- 
came tliem. I unpacked my knapsack, put my 
room to rights, dusted tlie window-panes, and 
salhed forth to see what work the Community 
demanded oi me. 

The Community was ranged outside my 
cottage door as one man. It seemed that, 
unable to resist the combined attractions of 
the bicycle and a new comrade, they had 
decreed a half-holiday by universal suffrage, 
and were waiting without to let mc teach 
them the use of the machine. But the Com- 
missioner, who was an unregenerate monopo- 
list as to private property, effectually prevented 
its premature appropriation by a mute white 

I trembled as I saw how many awkward 
youths desired to ride my precious cycle. 
But if you go in for Communism you must 
expect it lo cut both ways. I had eaten their 
dinner, they must share my bicycle. P'or so 
it is written in the lawless law of anarchy. 

Most of these young men were good fel- 
lows in their way — very simple-hearted anar- 
chists. I do not credit it that they could have 
blown up a Tsar, or even dropped a bomb into 
a suburban letter-box. They confined them- 


selves to cabbages and passionate denuncia- 
tion of the oppressors. But the ringleader 
in the attempt to borrow my bicycle from an 
absent comrade was an exception to the rule. 
He was a villainous-looking creature — the 
Caliban of our island. His name was Leon. 
I think he must have been built after designs 
by Mr. Aubrey Beardsley. He had rufous hair, 
a nose without a bridge, and thick protruding 
lips. Those lips were a nightmare. I set 
him down as a judicious cross between a 
Swiss crkin and an albino negro. To make 
matters worse, like many other repulsive 
people, he had the habit when he spoke 
to you of coming up very close and breathing 
in your face, so that his protruding lips almost 
seemed to touch you. I had an irresistible im- 
pulse to say to him, "Take, oh take those lips 
away ! " only, I knew if I did he would not 
understand ; or if he understood he would 
misunderstand me. 

I felt from the outset thai I might have 
trouble with Leon. 

That first night, for some time, I was kept 
awake by a continuous concert, which sorely 
puzzled me. It could not be nightingales — 
the note was not varied enough ; nor was it 
the Six Great Powers of Europe — the chorus 


was far too concordant. It reminded me most 
of the serenade made by the small green 
southern tree-frogs ; but here, in Sussex ! I 
lay awake and racked my brain. Next day 
solved the m3'stery. The hollow beyond our 
plot of intensive culture was marshy and 
weedy, it teemed with natterjacks. I will 
own that till I came to Pinfold I wist not 
even that the natterjack existed. I had rolled 
him into one with his cousin the toad. But 
our only British brother, a leather-dresser 
from Bermondsey, and a born naturalist, soon 
showed me the difference. Ever since I have 
met the natterjack in society everywhere. 
He is the gentleman and the artist in his own 
family. Frogs croak, toads purr, but the 
natterjack sings. You will admire his clear 
high note, trilled with a delicate tremolo. 

At last I fell asleep, a very wearied anar- 



I RESPECTED Rotlienburg ; he was a man of 
ideas. Of course, they were wrong ; but, 
according to his rush-lights, he acted them out. 
He seemed to me to have a shallow brain, m 
a constant state of feverish agitation. He was 
a flamboyant rhetorician, a crisp denunciator. 
It did one's soul good to hear him declaim red- 
hot against kings, priests, and the intolerable 
tyranny ot public opinion. The rest were 
shadows. Rothenburg by comparison was an 
intellectual Titan. 

Even old Mrs. Pritchard, of the parboiled 
arms, who lived in the Community cottage 
with the bare, bald hall, recognised his 
superiority. " That there Rottenborough," 
she would say, with her arms akimbo, " why 
he's worth the whole lot of 'em." She was a 
study in her way, Mrs. Pritchard — globular and 
emotional. Rothenburg's eloquence filled her 
eyes with tears. J^y/iy she was an anarchist 


I failed to perceiv^c. She seemed as much out 
of place in that cosmopolite crew as a Free 
Kirk elder in a chorus of Maenads. She told 
me they had "convinced" her. If so, she 
must have had a mind singularly open to con- 
viction. I gather rather that she took to 
anarchy as she might have taken to Primi- 
tive Methodism, the Salvation Army, or any 
other variety of dithyrambic religion. There 
chanced to be no Shakers or Mormons in the 
field at the moment, so Mrs. Pritchard fell 
back upon the allurements of Communism. 
She washed for the comrades, a post, you may 
guess, which almost amounted to a lady-like 

When I joined the Community I did so in 
dead earnest. You may think I jest, but I 
assure you seriously that my first intention 
was to live and die in the bosom of anarchy. 
Even the first sight of the ten acres, with its 
fringe of natterjacks and its total lack of eg- 
lantine, did not damp my ardour ; nor did the 
dinner at the outset, I reflected that I had 
taught a cookery class at the Guild, and that I 
could find an outlet for my energies in radical 
reform of the Communal kitchen. It certainly 
afforded a noble chance for the reformer. 
Meanwhile I said nothing, though I eat every 


meal with an increasing undercurrent of dis- 
trust as to its cleanliness. 

At night we gathered in the Community hall 
and decided the future of Europe. Within, as 
without, it had anaemic brick walls, slightly 
inclined towards jaundice, and under its roof 
we listened drearily while Rothenburg settled 
the map of the twentieth century in unofficial 
harangues. Save for his torrent of eloquence 
1 found the hall depressing. Our Community 
shared the common mania of the sectary for 
placarding its sentiments. Only here " The 
Lord is my Shepherd " and " God Bless our 
Home " gave place to " Solidarite de la Race 
Hnmaine,'" " No King, no Laws, no Taxes," 
'^ Das Land fur das Volk,'^ " Ubi bene, ibi 
Patria,'' and " Free Thought, Free Affection." 
I read these legends over and over till they 
palled. In another respect also my comrades 
resembled the universal schismatic — their 
interests were confined to a single range. 
They were great on altruism ; but one saw 
their eyes glaze over the moment one diverged 
from the beaten path of anarchic platitude. 

Rothenburg asked me the first day if I knew 
anything of gardening. Anything of garden- 
ing ! I could have told them at a glance that 
their cauliflowers were planted three inches 


too close, while their views on spring carrots 
were absur Jly elementary. I had been reared 
in the country. But I reflected that, even 
among anarchists, modesty befits a woman, 
and I answered that I hoped so. 

They wished to set me at first upon light 
work in the glass-houses ; even those rough 
working men, I could see (notable mainly for the 
whiteness of their faces and the redness of their 
politics), paid some homage to my gentility ; 
though they would have denied it themselves, 
they were anxious to spare me as much as pos- 
sible of manual labour. But I would have none 
of that. If I joined their clan at all I must 
join on equal terms. I am all for the absolute 
equation of the sexes. I wished to bear my 
part in the burdens of the Community. 

So I devoted myself with a single mind to 
intensive culture. I may be dense, but after 
close inspection my impression is that in- 
tensive culture, were it not for its name, 
might readily be confused with ordinary gar- 

Rothenburg was working on the founda- 
tions of a new glass-house. To avoid Leon, 
whose province was potatoes, I took a 
pick and worked by the Alsatian's side. He 
seldom spoke ; when he did he left off delving 


— his shallow brain had room but for one occu- 
pation at a time. It was curious to see him 
pause, push his crush-hat from his brow, wipe 
his narrow forehead with his shirt-sleeve, 
stroke the thin yellow hair, and then give 
vent to some deep philosophical speculation, 
which a child of ten might have considered 

On the second day of my task at the trench 
a sudden thought struck me. " Rothenburg," I 
said, wielding my pick somewhat viciously, 
"you have bought this land; how do you 
manage to hold it ? " 

He struck work, as usual, and turned the 
watery blue eyes upon me. 

"We hold it, Juliet," he said — I was 
officially known to all the comrades as Juliet 
— "we hold it" — he paused as if I were 
drawing a tooth — " we hold it by trustees. 
No other way is possible." 

"The English law compels you?" 

" My faith, yes ; we cannot own it as a 

"And suppose some comrade were to re- 
fuse to work, and yet stick to his rooms. 
What could you do to get rid of him ? " 

That was a problem for Rothenburg. He 
fondled the thin yellow hair till I thought it 


would come out ; he fingered the shadowy 
moustache with that nervous hand till he 
made me frightened. 

" I imagine," he said at last, after due 

deliberation, in a very slow tone, "we would 

be compelled to call in ... . the State 

to eject him." He uttered that 

hated word with visible effort. 

Appello Caesarem ! 1 dug my pick into the 
ground more viciously than ever. Uut I said 
nothing. Coercive practices ! I saw I was 
back with my old friends Aforesaid and This 
Indenture Witnesseth. 

Yet I will do the anarchists the justice to 
say that none of them seemed anxious to 
afford their pet bugbear, the State, the oppor- 
tunity of trying this test case. They toiled 
hard, and inefficiently. In the sweat of their 
brow they did very little. None of them 
could be called a specialist in gardening. 
Rothenburg himself had worked as a lady's 
tailor in Paris, he told me, and had flung up 
a post of fifty francs a week — " Not bad 
wages for a working man," he observed, 
preening himself, with the complacency of 
a willing martyr — to till the soil with in- 
tensive culture. I believe he was really 
a good tailor spoiled to make an indifferent 


gardener. Still, one could not lielp respect- 
ing his enthusiasm. When I pressed him 
further on this head, he admitted with regret 
that in the present state of the world only 
a chosen few — "like you and me, Juliet" — 
were fit for anarchy. (I felt half inclined to 
retort with the last of the Sandcmanians, that 
I was "no that sure of Juliet.") However, 
he thought it was well to begin the experi- 
ment ; after all, one should live up to one's 
highest ideal. 

I glanced around at the sodden field, the 
bald brick cottages, and had doubts in my 
mind whether they did really fulfil my highest 

I worked hard with the rest. A certain 
sense of honour made me work my hardest. 
Noblesse oblige ; and precisely in proportion 
as 1 saw the comrades would be content to 
let me shirk some share of my task out of 
regard for my gentility, did I feel it incum- 
bent upon me to do my utmost possible. 
1 wore my cycling suit in the fields, and 
laboured like a man. I am not muscularly 
strong, but I have been well trained, and 
I honestly believe I was the most efficient 
workman in all that little group of incom- 
petent town toilers. 


In my spare time I set about reforming 
the kitchen. The vegetarian dishes I had 
learned at the Guild delighted the souls of 
the simple anarchists. My barley cutlets 
with tomato sauce were voted " heavenly " 
in best lip-licking Teutonic; my vermicelli 
shape received the praise of "bravissima" 
from our Neapolitan Luigi. This skill in 
cookery much increased my vogue among 
the men of the Community ; while the women 
were not sorry to have their task lightened 
by a little amateur assistance. 

If I have not said much here of the women 
and children 'tis not for want of appreciation : 
they were the salt of the settlement. There 
was no nonsense of high principles about 
them : they had followed their husbands and 
fathers and brothers to this outland spot 
as women will do ; and they would have 
shouted "Vive I'Empereur" as heartily to- 
morrow as they shouted " Vive I'Anarchie " 
when asked to-day. But they loved to 
applaud Rothenburg on the war-path of 
peace, and would have scalped anyone who 
doubted the truth of the shibboleths of 

With the children I made great friends. 
Dear rough-and-tumble little things, they 

F 2 


oozed with merriment. My rational dress 
delighted them: so did Mr. Commissioner, 
with his white teeth, as soon as they had got 
over the first formalities. He suffered them 
to pull his tail like a lamb. We played 
games together at night, in the intervals 
of reorganising European affairs and abolish- 
ing the capitalist. We romped like tomboys. 
My attempts to tell them "Cinderella" and 
"The Three Bears," in bad German, trans- 
lated by the more knowing into Czech and 
Yiddish, were not a complete success ; but 
neither were they a failure, for at any rate 
they resulted in happy laughter. Besides 
I taught them cat's-cradle, and cat's-cradle 
at least has escaped the curse of Babel. 

Still, rocks lay ahead. My Odyssey was 
not so quickly to bring me into port. By 
the end of the week a cloud took shape : 
1 foresaw storms brewing. 

All the comrades were devoted in equal 
parts to myself and my bicycle. In the 
evenings, when work was done, and we had 
watered the cabbages, I gave them lessons 
in turn on the mysterious monster. From 
the beginning it occurred to me that most of 
them were anxious to entice me away from 
the common field towards remoter lanes 


where occasions for private talk were more 
easily obtained. But, mindful of my promise 
not to form idolatrous attachments, I resisted 
the temptations of the polyglot Fausts who 
would fain have discoursed to me the words 
of love in many uncouth languages. It was 
my policy to keep close to the cottages and 
the other women, backed up by that round 
mountain of Britannic matronhood, the guile- 
less Mrs. Pritchard. Besides, in the Com- 
missioner, I had an efficient bodyguard. 

On Saturday came the weekly division 
of profits. We had done well that week, 
having sent consignments of early roses and 
asparagus to Guildford and London. We 
declared a dividend, a splendid communal 
dividend, at the rate of four shillings per 
head for adults, and two shillings for children. 
I thought this profit magnificent. But just 
before the distribution of cash, Rothenburg 
strolled up to me, as I was dandling a 
r.iottle-armed anarchist. His fingers twitched 
on the imperceptible moustache more tremu- 
lously than ever. " Juliet," he said, briefly, 
" I want to speak to you." 

He said it in the voice with which our 
Principal at College was wont to summon us 
to her study for the discipline of exhortation. 


Free anarchist though I was, I listened and 

"Well, Rothenburg? " I murmured, laying 
down the baby. 

" The question is, do you mean to remain 
with us ? " 

" Why, certainly," I cried, astonished. 
"Did we not swear eternal friendship?" 

"But — the comrades complain that you 
take no notice of them." 

" No notice ! Absurd ! Why, I have 
taught them how to bicycle." 

"Yes ; but that is not everything. Friends 
should show friendliness. You hold them at 
arm's length. You keep yourself aloof. You 
have no camaraderie.^^ 

I looked him hard in the face. He blinked 
his watery eyes. I knew he was sincere — a 
good, honest anarchist ; but he expected too 
much of me. " Rothenburg," I said firmly, 
" I call this coercion." 

" No, no ; not coercion ; but comrades 
ought to be sociable." 

" 'Tis intolerable ! " I exclaimed. " What 
is anarchy for, if we are each to be forced 
into talking to one another against our wills ? 
I have donemy week's work ; I have cooked you 
good food ; I have lent you my bicycle ; and still 


you complain of me. The Banded Despots** — 
which was our technical phrase, to wit, for 
the British Government — "could not do worse 
than that, nor as bad as that either. They 
do not insist that one should make oneself 
agreeable. They are amply satisfied if man 
pays man's taxes." 

He twirled the non-existent moustache till 
he put a visible point on it. His fingers 
twitched painfully. " I only tell you what 
the comrades are saying," he replied, in a 
deprecatory way. " They find that you do 
not behave to them like a sister. In one word, 
they think that you give yourself the airs of 
a superior person. You pose as an aristo. 
They believed when you came that you would 
amalgamate freely with us. We want no 
women who decline to fraternise." 

This was too much for my temper. I broke 
into open mutiny. "I shall resign," I cried. 
"You are bringing to bear against me the 
intolerable tyranny of public opinion. I shall 
go back to the freedom and comfort of the 

His jaw dropped at this resolve. His eye 
glanced feelingly sideways towards the bicycle. 
For a moment I feared Commissioner Lin 
would pin him. " No, no," he cried. "You 


must not do that. We all like and respect 
you. We wish you to remain. But we wish 
you to be a sister. Give me time to consider 
— to communicate with the comrades." 

" Not one moment," I answered, hardly 
liking this turn. " Hand me over my money, 
and let me go ! I have worked for a week, 
and the labourer is worthy at least of his 
travelling expenses. I return to London." 

He hurried back to the group who hung 
about the door of the Community cottage, 
and spoke to them in low^ tones. Then he 
came again as envoy. " All the comrades 
say, if j'ou will reconsider your decision, they 
v/ill no longer insist upon your altering your 

" I will not reconsider it/' I replied, grow- 
ing really frightened, for I caught Leon's eye. 
" I go at once. Give nie my money, and let 
me return to the world I came from." 

They debated again. Commissioner Lin 
watched the case in my interest. Then one 
of the others approached. It was Leon — 
Caliban — the man with the protruding lips. 
I had my hand on my bicycle, and was ready 
to mount it. 

"This machine is ours," he said calmly, 
putting his face close to mine. " Whatever 


any comrade brings into the Community is 
common property. We will give you your 
dividend and let you go; but this you must 
leave with us." 

My blood was up. The old Eve within 
me was roused. The American eagle in my 
heart flapped its wings. I remembered how 
my fathers had fought at Lexington (they 
were quite a property to mc). "Sir," I 
exclaimed, in my most commanding voice, 
"you shall not touch my machine. If you 
venture to detain it " — I tried to remember 
the worst phrases I had learnt at Flor and 
Fingelman's — "I will move for a mandamus 
to compel you to show cause why you should 
escape the penalties of praemunire." What 
it all meant I do not know ; but I am sure 
the effect upon Caliban's mind was most salu- 
tary. I have ever since had a vastly increased 
respect for the law of England. 

They conferred again for a few minutes, 
with one e3'e on the Commissioner. Then 
Rothenburg came forward once more as 
spokesman. "Will you try it again for one 
week?" he asked in a really grieved voice. 
" We shall be sorry to lose you." 

"Not for one day!" I answered, a furtive 
gleam in Commissioner Lin's eye lending me 


courage. " Give me what I have earned, and 
let mc go ! " I asked for it with the greater 
confidence because I felt sure in my own 
mind I had done more effective work in the 
week than any of them. 

They paid me, murmuring. I retired to 
my cubicle, packed my knapsack in haste, 
returned to my machine, and laid my hand on 
it firmly. But within I was trembling like 
an Italian greyhound. Then I jumped into 
the saddle, and waved my hand to my sworn 
brothers, with an affectation of courage. 
" Messieurs," I said — and to call them 
" messieurs " was to excommunicate myself, 
to deny camaraderie — " Messieurs, you are a 
mass of conventions. 1 wish you the very 
good morning. Your rules are too stringent 
for me. I cannot away with them. I find 
myself tco individual, too anarchic for the 
anarchists ! " 

Then I waved my hand again, and set my 
face sternly towards civilisation, despotism, 
and the flesh-pots of Egypt. 

I was weary of dissent, and longed for the 
catholic church of humanity. I must go back 
to London, and be once more a type-writer. 



For the first three or four miles I kept on 
pedalling steadily. I grazed the corners, not 
even daring to look back, for I was haunted 
by a terror that Loon, with his lips, was on 
the track behind me. But I heard only the 
cries of the anarchist babies, calling to their 
playmate to come back in Czech and Yiddish. 

When I had escaped from the intricate 
tangle of Sussex lanes, and found myself once 
more on the Queen's highway of England, 
under the protecting aegis of Britannia's 
shield (in spite of the blood of the Pilgrim 
Fathers), I paused to reflect upon the week's 

A bicycle in full swing, I maintain, is not 
an ideal place for calm reflection. Hence the 
face of the bicyclist. Moreover, I had started 
without due attention to my screws, in my 
eagerness to escape from my sworn brothers, 
the anarchists, into the open air of Banded 


Despotism. So I called a halt, and dis- 
mounted for a moment to tighten my loose 
joints, metaphorically and literally. My 
knees still trembled under me, and the 
wraith of Caliban, panting ever in the 
rear, still pursed its thick lips in my face 
to mock me. I felt like Pliable when he 
abandoned Christian at the outset of his 
pilgrimage, and siank back from the first 
slough to the City of Destruction. For, in 
the background of my heart, I still loved 
and admired these simple earnest souls, 
eager after their kind to right human wrong, 
and to attain human perfection. I saw their 
comic side ; but 1 saw also that the root of 
the matter was in them. They had noble 
enthusiasms — all save Caliban; he was 
the serpent in that ten-acred Eden. When 
I got under weigh again, at a good easy 
pace, beneath rifts of blue through white 
summer cloud, I began to be aware that my 
first fortnight of free life had culminated 
in two distinct and acknowledged failures. 
I had failed to accommodate myself to the 
environment at Flor and Fingelman's ; I had 
failed to accommodate myself to the public 
opinion of the anarchists at Pinfold. Environ- 
ment was triumphing all along the line. I 


telt constrained to regard myself as one of the 
unfittest, who do not survive, and whom no 
man pities. 

Resolving myself into Committee of Finance, 
I found I had been acting with reckless ex- 
travagance. Cash in hand amounted to four 
and sevenpence — of which sum, four shillings 
represented my week's earnings, and seven- 
pence my balance from the bounty of St. 
Nicholas, after settling for tw^o weeks' rent 
in London, with sundry expenses. It occurred 
to me now (too late) that I had practically 
been paying twice over for lodging — once in 
London by cash, and once at the Community 
by giving my labour in return for a mere box 
of a cubicle. I felt so proud of this discovery 
in economics, hov/ever, that I was almost in- 
clined to condone the error for the sake of its 
detection. In other ways, also, I was demon- 
strably worse off than w^hen I started. I had 
worn my pretty brown cycling suit for a week 
in the stiff clay fields, not to mention the fact 
that I had splashed it with mud in the vica- 
rious effort to rectify the lines of grace in 
my comrades' riding ; and I had done my 
tyres no good on the rough roads of Sussex. 
Altogether, I was forced to confess to myself 
with shame that I returned to London after 


this escapade not only a wiser, but a poorer 

To crown all, I had no longer the use of my 
type-writer. The thirty pieces of silver for 
which I had betrayed my entire stock-in-trade, 
the instrument of production, were spent and 
lost to me. St. Nicholas had proved but a 
broken reed. I had leaned upon him, and 
he had pierced my hand. Never again should 
I trust the hypocritical smile on the face 
of that bland and benignant impostor ! 

1 pedalled on at half-speed. Little vocalists, 
ignorant of the name of Mendelssohn, carolled 
songs without words in the sky overhead : 
but my heart was heavy. 

Yet, after all, I had had my amusement, and 
bought my experience. 

A pheasant screamed ; I mistook it for Cali- 
ban. Mr. Commissioner looked up in my 
face and sympathised. 

It was still early afternoon ; for Saturday 
was a half-holiday : we had struck work at 
noon, and dined, before proceeding to the 
division of profits. June was almost come, 
and the days were lengthening. I hoped to 
reach London long before the hour at which 
the Banded Despots compel us to light our 
red lamps in the public interest. 


Yet I was so delighted to have flung off 
the yoke of anarchy that I could have fallen 
on the neck of a Banded Despot, had he 
appeared at that moment, were it but in the 
guise of a Sussex County Constable. The 
country smiled : if eglantine be sweet-briar, it 
bordered the road; if honeysuckle, it scented 
the cottage porches. 

I rode on and on, glad to be free once more, 
though sorry to be poor, and doubtful where 
I could turn for the next few days' board and 
lodging. The words of the anarchist alpha- 
bet, which I had learned from the one British 
brother at Pinfold, recurred strongly to my 
mind — 

" F is the freedom that old England brags about ; 
If you haven't got a dinner — why — you're free to 
go without. ' 

I felt sure I might soon taste that common 
privilege secured to all of us by Magna 

In this mood I coasted recklessly down a 
slight hill near Holmwood, with my feet on 
the rest, and my hands too incautiously re- 
moved from the handle-bar. Behind me lay 
the Weald ; in front rose the trenchant ram- 
part of the North Downs. 

At the foot of the slope was a sudden turn. 


As I reached the bottom my hand gri})ped the 
break — too late. I was aware of a Foreign 
Body, rushing eagerly round the curve, with 
flying fair hair ; next, of a considerable im- 
pact ; then, of myself on the road, sprawling, 
and the Foreign Body with the fair hair 
wringing its hands beside me. 

She was a woman, fortunately. 

I raised myself with dignity. It is always 
a good plan, in case of collision, to take the 
aggressive first. " You came round that cor- 
ner rather fast, considering how sharp it is," 
I observed in a coldly cri*-ical tone, who^e 
effect was perhaps rather marred by the fact 
that my fingers were torn and bleeding. This 
was sheer bluff, and I knew it. 

"Oh, I beg your pardon!" she cried, clap- 
ping her hands to her ears in an agonised 
little paroxysm. I saw that she was slight 
and fair and evidently frightened : a wisp of 
a figure, a fluff of amber hair, blue eyes like 

" It was a nasty spill," I went on, growing 
severer in proportion as I realised that mj' 
antagonist was little inclined to defend her- 
self (which was a meanness on my part). 
" You should slow round corners. I hope 
you have not hurt yourself." 


She set to cry all at once. "A little," she 
answered. " Or rather, a great deal." 

She was a timid small atom}'. I began to 
regret my hasty sternness, the more so as 
I knew I was at least as much to blame as 
she, for I had run down the hill without 
my fingers on the break, and had trusted to 
chance at the turn of the corner. All this 
too, I admit, with a wheel that had already 
been badly buckled. 

Happily, Commissioner Lin did not take it 
into his head to seize her. 

I tried to console her. Then I turned to 
my machine. Which shows that I am a 
woman first and a cyclist afterwards ; for I 
notice that your born cyclist looks first at her 
wheels, and only proceeds in the second place 
to enquire which of her limbs is broken. 

When I saw its condition, I recognised at 
once that my cup was full. All, all was lost. 
The front wheel was twisted out of human 
recognition; the tyre was punctured; I saw 
seven-and-sixpence worth of repairs staring 
me full in the face before I could fall back 
upon my base of operations in London. 

I blush to confess it ; but I followed her 
exampl •. Lexington faded away. I burst 
into tear, outright, and sank down on the 


ground by my broken cycle. I suppose the 
spill had shattered my nerves. Mr. Commis- 
sioner squatted on his haunches and stared 
at mc. 

How long we might have sat there, ming- 
ling tears together, it were hard to say — had 
not St. George come by, in the nick of time, 
sword in hand, to rescue us. 

He was not mounted as usual on his milk- 
white steed, but more prosaically seated on 
the box of a dog-cart. Yet what matters 
that ? A cavalier is a cavalier, be he horseman 
or gigman. The knights who ride in all 
their pride around the frieze of the Par- 
thenon are only knights in virtue of their pos- 
session of the noble quadruped platonically 
adored by the Grand Vizier and his satraps. 
So I knew it was a St. George, though in 
place of a lance he had a lancet in his instru- 
ment case. To unimaginative eyes he was 
the village doctor. 

He pulled up his horse by the roadside, 
and called out to us cheerily : " Anything 
wrong ? Can I be of use to you ? " 

"Not for me," I broke out, fearing he 
would want to dress my wounds and be 
paid for it ; "I am not hurt at all. About 
this lady I do not know. She cannoned 


against me, and somebody seems to have 

St. George dismounted — if one can dis- 
mount from a dog-cart — a genial giant. He 
looked at my hands, which were torn and 
bleeding, and ingrained with sand and dirt 
from the road. " Excuse me," he said, 
gravely; "this is worse than yow chink. 
You have had a nasty wrench. And, be- 
sides, the soil contains " 

"I know all that," I answered. "The 
germs of lockjaw. I have gone through an 
ambulance course, and iiclped the trained 
nurse at an East-End Settlement. Well, 
the germs must take their chance. Tetanus 
microbes have' a right to live like the rest of 
us, I suppose." 

My manner was perhaps defiant. He 
smiled, not unkindly, a boundless Pacific of 
a smile : his ears alone checked it. " Ha ! 
an anarchist ? " he enquired, glancing back 
in the direction whence I had come. 

" Yes," I answered. " From Pinfold." 

"Tired of it ? " 

" Very much so. I am on my way back to 
London and the Banded Despots." 

He smiled again. " You must let me 
dress your hand," he said, persuasively. 

G 2 


I drew back in alarm. "Oh, no ! " I cried, 
for I had nothing to pay him with. 

" Nonsense," he went on with kind per- 
sistence, divining my thought in the hot flush 
that came over me. " This is not a profes- 
sional matter. A mere passing courtesy to a 
lady in distress. Let me drive you to my 
surgery, and then on to Holmwood Station. 
You won't be able to get those machines 
mended so as to return to town to-night. I 
can pack them both in. And your friend will 
come with you." 

There was no resisting the frank kindliness 
of his big genial smile. He was broad- 
shouldered and large-hearted, with a face to 
match. I clambered up into the dog-cart, and 
the fair girl sat behind. How he annihilated 
space so as to pack in the bicycles as well I 
have no idea. But the age of miracles is not 
past, nor yet the age of chivalry. St. George 
convinced me that both still exist. At a 
moment of despair, he revived my waning 
belief in human nature. 

At the surgery, he washed my bleeding 
hands tenderly, spread an antiseptic ointment 
and a cool rag on top, and bound it all up 
with womanly solicitude. As a faint protest, 
I murmured at the end : " How much am I 


in your debt ? " But he smiled his expansive 
smile, and repeated, " Nothing, nothing ! " 
Then he examined the fair girl, who was the 
exact counterpart of Michaela in the opera, 
and pronounced her sound in wind and 
limb, though nervously shaken. Michaela 
wept at learning she was not hurt; she would 
have fainted, I think, if he had told her she 
was injured. 

When our wounds had been assuaged, he 
drove us down to the station. On the way, 
Michaela grew gradually calm enough to 
communicate her misfortunes. " I want to get 
to Leith Hill," she said. "I was going there 
when I was so unlucky as to upset this lady." 

(My heart pricked me, but I refrained from 

" Leith Hill ! " St. George cried, with his 
hearty great laugh. "Why, you are five 
miles out for it ! You have taken the wrong 
road. You were straight on the way to 
Horsham when I met you." 

"Oh, I was afraid of that," Michaela ex- 
claimed, beginning to cry again ; she had a 
genius for tears that might have been utilised 
with advantage for purposes of irrigation. 
" I — I was cycling with a gentleman." 

" Indeed ? " I put in coldly. 


"But I — I am engaged to him." 

"Of course," I answered. Having left 
anarchy and all its works nine miles behind 
me, I affected to believe no young lady could 
be bicycling with a man unless he were en- 
gaged to her. 

" And we kept together as far as Dorking." 
Michaela went on ; " but there I stopped to 
speak to some friends I met by chance in the 
street, and my — my escort went round the 
corner to buy some cigarettes ; and when I 
hurried on again to catch him up, I could not 
discover him ; and I'm afraid I must go back 
alone to London." She spoke as though 
London were in the heart of Africa. 

The doctor laughed. "You took quite the 
wrong turn," he said. " Or rather, you kept 
straight on, when you should have swerved 
to the right. That unhappy young man must 
be seeking you now, on the summit of Leith 
Hill, with many qualms of conscience." 

" Do you think so ? " Michaela cried, 
wringing her hands once more. She was a 
study in helplessness. I could feel she was 
rich, brought up in cotton-wool, and for her 
sake I was glad of it ; for I wondered what 
she would do if she should ever find herself 
face to face with real misfortune. 



St. George joined tact to his chivalry. 
When we pulled up at the station, he handed 
us both out, unloaded our iron steeds, raised 
his hat with an amicable smile, and then, 
before we had time to thank him, cracked a 
merry whip, and drove away hurriedly. My 
bandaged condition forbade me even to grasp 
his hapd ; he vanished into the past, and was 
once more a phantom. I never saw him 
again. Yet I have always been grateful to 
that brief vision of a knight who saved me 
for one moment from a passing dragon. If 
peradventure he happen to read these words, 
will he accept my thanks for it ? 

On the platform, as Chancellor of my own 
Exchequer, I had time to bring in my private 
budget. It showed an obvious deficit. Had 
I been Leader of the Opposition, I could have 
risen with scorn from the front bench, and 
subjected it to a scathing — nay, a crushing 


criticism. In plain words, I saw that I had 
not money enough to pay my way back to 
London, to take a dog-ticket for the Com- 
missioner, and also to carry my bicycle with 
me (zone 50, one shilling.) This collision 
had proved even more disastrous to my 
finances than to my hands. Two courses 
were now open to me. I must cloak-room 
my machine — with little chance of redeeming 
it — or else resolve to spend the residue of 
my days at Holmwood. 

The latter alternative being the more 
original of the two, naturally I made up my 
mind to adopt it. I felt so poor and desolate 
that I looked for the police to step in and 
disperse me. 

"I won't go up to town," I said curtly to 
Michaela. " I will spend the night here." 
I said " the night " only, instead of " my 
life," lest she should suspect me of exaggera- 

To my vast surprise, this resolution, which 
I fancied of no importance to anyone save 
myself, threw my companion into a tremor of 
anxiety. "Then I can't go either," she cried, 
wetting her lips with fear. " If you stop, / 
must stop with you, and telegraph up for my 


I Stared at her in astonishment. " Why 
so ? " I asked at last. 

" Why, because — because of this dreadful 
murder! " 

"What murder?" I inquired, reverting 
instinctively to Leon and his lips. 

She stared in turn. " You must have heard 
of it," she exclaimed. " It has been in all the 

I remembered that at Pinfold we had been 
too much absorbed by the future of Europe 
and the affair of the new glass-house ever to 
trouble our minds about what chanced to be 
happening in the mere provincial world of 
London. So I assured her I knew naught 
of it. 

She went on to explain to me that a woman 
had been found killed in a first-class carriage 
— stabbed to the heart, and stuffed under 
the seat — only three days before, 

"I dare not travel alone," she said, clasp- 
ing her hands and opening her blue eyes 
wide. " Do please come with me." 

This forced me to explain my financial 
position. My new friend declared that that 
did not matter. Might she lend me a sove- 
reign ? A sovereign ! I gasped at the idea 
of such wealth. But I had further to make 


it clear that my chance of repaying it was a 
vanishing quantity. 

She listened to my explanation with open- 
mouthed astonishment. I think she had never 
heard of such poverty before — in one of her 
own sort — though to me it was commonplace. 
" But you must let me lend it to you," she 
said, drawing out the daintiest little lizard- 
skin purse I have ever seen ; " or, rather, you 
must let me pay you for the harm I have 
done to your bicycle, and the difficulty I have 
brought upon you. That is only fair. I 
ought to settle for your ticket up to town, 
and for the mending." 

I was compelled to confess. My duplicity 
had failed. " It was more my fault than 
yours," I faltered out. " I was reckless in 
my pace. You were mounting a slight rise, 
with the wind against you : I was descending, 
and had it in my favour. If anybody is to 
blame, it is I. Pray, pray, forgive me." 

She insisted in spite of me. " I shall take 
two first-class tickets." 

My democratic gorge rose. " Never ! " I 
cried firmly. " St. Nicholas forfend ! Not 
in my palmiest and most unregenerate days 
did I travel first-class. If you consent 
to take two thirds, I will owe you for the 


amount. You can give me your address ; and 
whenever I am rich enough I will repay you all. 
I have sufficient of my own to buy a ticket 
for my dog and bicycle." It went against the 
grain with me to receive this favour from a 
stranger unseen till to-day ; but I recognised 
that there was no help for it. 

She took the tickets under protest. " Such 
dreadful people travel third — drunken soldiers 
and sailors ! " 

" Brave defenders of our country ! " I an- 
swered, remembering my father's profession. 
" It's Thank you, Mr. Atkins, when the band 
bepfins to play." 

The liquid blue eyes stared at me in blank 
amazement. Rudyard Kipling, one could see, 
was a sealed book to her. I think she had 
doubts of my perfect sanity. Perhaps you 
share them. 

We arranged for our maimed mounts. I 
hold it one of the best points of a bicycle, as 
compared with the noble animal, that it con- 
siderately refrains from wringing your heart 
in the matter of sympathy. It has no nerves. 
The train panted into the station. We ex- 
plored an empty carriage, free from the con- 
tamination of soldiers and sailors, drunk or 
sober, and started off comfortably. 


Michaela took the precaution to peer under 
the seats beforehand. I am not sure which 
of the two she expected to find — a corpse or 
a murderer. 

"This is nice," she said at last, smiling, 
and recovering her spirits for the first time 
since the collision. " We shall have the 
carriage to ourselves all the way to Victoria. 
I gave the guard half-a-crown. I couldnt 
travel with a man. I should be quite too 

Some devil entered into me. I am subject 
to devils. My new acquaintance was so in- 
sipidly fair, so mediaevally shrinking, while 
I am dark and modern, that 1 had an irre- 
sistible impulse to play Carmen to her 
Michaela. " Have you reflected," I said drily, 
" that a woman may have committed that 
murder ? " 

It was heartless of me, I admit. My little 
companion was so timid and shrinking. But 
the bolt fell flat. She clasped her hands and 
looked at me. " I never thought of that ! " 
she said. " How dreadfully clever you must 
be to discover it. Dreadful as well as clever! 
But I am sure you are not a murderess." (She 
had a trick of emphasising one word in each 
sentence.) "You are a great deal too nice. 


You behaved so sweetly about the ticket, you 
know, and the accident ! Anyone else in 
your place would have pretended it was my 
fault, and made me pay for the damages." 

"That was only common honesty," I 
objected. " Murderers need not be deficient 
in common honesty." 

" Oh, but they must be awful people! " 

"Murderers are not a class," said I. "They 
are you and me, acting under pressure of 
powerful impulses." 

She glanced at me, more amazed than fright- 
ened. " I knozv you would not murder me," 
she replied, less alarmed than I might have 
expected. "You are so kind, though you are 
so queer. I feel quite safe in your hands. 
With those honest eyes I am certain you 
would not hurt me." 

I could have crept under the seat, I felt 
such a brute. I took her two small hands in 
my bandaged palms. "You dear little thing ! " 
I exclaimed, " nobody could ever hurt you ! " 
Then seven other devils entered into me again, 
worse than the first ones, and I could not help 
adding, " Though if I wanted to murder, this 
is a unique opportunit}'. My bleeding hands, 
and the evidence about the bicycle accident 
would suffice to account for any number of 


blood-Stains. Still, to stuff you under the seat 
would be bad taste and vulgar." 

She caught my eye, and laughed. " What 
a funny girl it is ! " she cried. "You arc so 
comical ! But it isn't the least use your trying 
to frighten me. I can see the twinkle in your 
big black eyes ; and I like you in spite of your 
trying to be horrid. Do you know, I liked 
you from the first moment I saw you." 

'Twas impossible not to be taken by such 
charming childishness. She cooed so pret- 
tily one was forced to love her. Before we 
reached Victoria we were fast friends. Michaela 
thought me the queerest person she had ever 
met, but, oh, so nice ! Her tongue was 
loosed. She told me a great deal about what 
a dear fellow she was engaged to. She spoke 
of him as Toto. She also wanted to lend me 
a pound. But I sternly refused. I must work 
out my own salvation in fear and trembling. 
(This Biblical trick descends to me, no doubt, 
from the Pilgrim Fathers.) 

Michaela gave me her card at Clapham 
Junction — "Miss Allardyce" it said — and 
begged me to call upon her. I was driven 
to explain that in the rank of life to which 
I now belonged people did not call upon one 
another; more particularly that the Jews of 


Onslow Gardens (I am dropping into it again) 
had no dealings with the Soho Samaritans. 
Michaela dissented from this finding : her posi- 
tion was that " a lady was a lady." I granted 
the truth of that identical proposition, but flatly 
disallowed that all ladies had time for calling. 
I also pointed out that my first consideration 
was bread, which brought tears again into her 
tender blue eyes. We parted the best of 
friends. We even kissed one another, though 
I am an infrequent kisser. She thanked me 
mightily for my company, which made me feel 
small again. For I had upset her nerves, 
broken her machine, and borrowed some shil- 
lings, which I scarcely dared to hope I might 
have the luck to repay her. 

However, I took her address, and added one 
small square to the mosaic design with which 
I am paving my possible future residence. 



Perhaps you think I have made too much of 
those ancestors of mine who fought and bled 
at Lexington. That is always possible ; 
if so, on further thought, you will feel that 
there are excuses for me. My ancestors be- 
queathed me nothing save the memory of 
their courage. Had I inherited from them an 
estate in Middlesex, or even in Massachusetts, 
I might dwell less on their valour. But since 
they have left me heiress of their glory alone, 
'tis natural that I should magnify the one 
legacy I have received from them. To deprive 
me of that pittance were to leave me poor 
indeed. Let me salve my indigence with the 
honour of the family. 

And, in truth, when I got back to my rooms 
in Soho, I stood in need of every ghost among 
my ancestral warriors. All the dragons in 
London flapped wings together in that narrow 


Picture my position. I had no money in 
hand, and no machine to work upon. Besides, 
with my maimed fingers, it would be im- 
possible for me to type-write for three days 
at least. I had no prospect of food till my 
wounds recovered. Even then, much must 
depend upon the chance of an engagement ; 
and for record of my " last place " what had 
I but my mocking letter to This Indenture 
Witnesseth ? 

Must I fall back on the aunt, with her black 
thread gloves and her Zenana Missions ? I 
glanced at Commissioner Lin ; no, a bone, 
and freedom ! 

However, petty troubles are the mustard of 
life: they add pungency. Besides, we are 
all Cinderellas with a fairy godmother. Her 
name is Aide-toi-et-Dieu-t*aidera. I have 
never failed to find much efficacy in Citizen 
Danton's prescription. In hopeless circum- 
stances cur three best allies are audacity? 
audacity, and again audacity. 

I made up my mind to be audacious. I 

have big black eyes, as Michaela had truly 

observed, so audacity comes easily to me ; 

celestial blue is always shrinking. I p^^esented 

myself at the door of my lodgings with the air 

of one who had merely gone away for a few 



days* bicycling trip, and had thousands at her 
banker's. I think my jauntiness impressed 
the landlady. I spoke in vague terms of "a 
tour in Sussex," and of its premature close 
through the accident of a collision. Item, the 
knees of my knickerbockers had distinctly 
suffered. However, as I had paid a fort- 
night's rent before 1 left, out of St. Nicholas's 
benefaction, and had been away for a week 
and a day, besides four days more or less 
spent at Hor and Fingelman's, I was still 
entitled to two clear nights' lodging. If the 
worst came, I might even stop on for another 
week without paying. The mere fact of my 
return was a guarantee of "respectability," 
which, in the lodging-house acceptation, is a 
synonym for probable continuous solvency. 

I commanded supper with my lordliest air. 
My landlady was too much taken aback to 
refuse me. I suggested a chop, as though 
chops grew wild. She acquiesced without a 

I have remarked already that I belong to a 
generation which has analysed conscience 
away. But I am sorry to say analysis is not 
really one with annihilation. Conscience re- 
sembles nature in that, when driven out with 
a pitchfork, it recurs in spite of you. My 


enjoyment of that excellent chump chop — 
grilled brown to a turn — was sadly interfered 
with by the floating fear that I might never 
be able to pay for it. I had painful qualms. 
Had my landlady been rich, I might have 
swallowed them with the chop : but she was 
a reduced widow with one invalid daughter. 

Conscience, however, though it makes 
cowards of us all, does not (within my ex- 
perience) produce insomnia. I slept the 
sleep of the just, and woke up an Aniaeus, or 
rather an Anta^a. (This remark 1 offer as a 
contribution to the unsolved problem whether 
or not I have been to Girton.) 

The sun was shining. The thrushes (at 
the bird fancier's opposite) were bent on 
justifying Browning, by singing twice over 
each careless leit-motiv. I ordered breakfast 
with an undaunted face, like Leonidas at 
Thermopylae. The landlady, completely sub- 
dued, brought up coffee and rolls as if I had 
been a duchess. I almost soared to an Qgg ; 
as the word hung on my lips, conscience 
stepped in with " Necessaries, yes ; but 
luxuries — that were an infamy." I forewent 
the egg, though my long ride had bv gotten 
in me a noble hunger. And I rather flatter 
myself that in saying " forewent " I am en- 

H 3 


riching the language with a new preterite. 
Oxford Dictionary, please copy. 

Breakfast inspired me with fresh hope. 
There is much virtue in a breakfast. I began 
to surmise that I might have misjudged St. 
Nicholas. Not the bland old bishop of the 
National Gallery — he was a humbug, I felt 
sure — but that charming young benefactor 
in Fra Angelico's panel ; could he be equally 
untrustworthy, and with so innocent a face ? 
I, for one, could scarce credit it. He 
seemed like the masculine counterpart of 
Michaela. And Michaela was too mild not 
to be really guileless. 

At least, I would stroll round to the Strand 
and seek another interview with the holy 
man. For the next two days it were futile 
to hunt for work. Those bandaged hands 
must tell against me. So perforce I took 

On Monday morning I sallied forth. I 
wore my little black dress and hat, in which, 
even to myself, I looked absurdly proper. 
I love trudging down the Strand. It may 
sound ungrateful to confess it, after the pains 
that have been taken to make London ugly 
for us, but I find a weird charm in its pic- 
turesque ugliness. When I reached the win- 


dow of which I was in search, a sudden thrill 
ran through me. It seemed as though I had 
suffered some personal loss. My patron 
saint had disappeared ! Not a trace of St. 
Nicholas ! 

If the embalmed body of the holy bishop 
had been missing from the shrine where it 
lies at Bari, still exuding manna, I could not 
have been more disconcerted. In my sur- 
prise and alarm I even ventured into the 
shop. "The little Fra Angelico," I cried, 
" in the window — what has become of it ?" 

My anxious manner made the astute pro- 
prietor scent a possible purchaser. " Put up 
to auction to-day," he answered. " You must 
be quick if you want it." 

" Where ? " 

He mentioned a firm of picture-dealers in 
the West-End. 

I know not what possessed me — unless it 
were the fairy godmother — but I hurried off 
to the sale-rooms. I had never attended an 
auction before, yet I wedged my way to the 
front with the assured air of a buyer. 

I was only just in time. My patron saint 
was in the hands of the slave-dealer, who ex- 
patiated, after- the usual fashion of slave- 
dealers, on his chattel's youth; simplicity, 


and beauty. He also called attention to the 
innocence and charm of the three sleeping 
maidens. His language was florid. I could 
not help wondering whether, from some calm 
cell in the heavenly monastery overhead, the 
angelic friar looked down with a pitying 
smile on this vicissitude of his handicraft. 
How lovingly he laid on his cinnabar and his 
cobalt ! He painted that picture with holy 
joy for some dim niche in a Florentine 
nunnery ; could he have foreseen how it 
would be bandied about, with unsympathetic 
remarks as to its drawing and colouring, 
in the unsanctified hands of far northern 
heretics ? 

It was hateful to behold that lovely youth, 
with his long fair hair and his delicate trunk- 
hose, held up for competition to the highest 
bidder. The desecration sickened me. There 
he stood on tip-toe, his back half-turned to 
us, with his three purses of gold, a rich and 
noble saint, yet not wealthy enough to re- 
deem himself from such last dishonour ! Oh, 
strange craft of the brush which could so give 
life to a dead thing that, ages after its 
fashioner had mouldered into dust, my heart 
still went forth to it as to a living lover! 
Men began to bid for St. Nicholas. Thirty, 


forty, fifty, sixty guineas ; seventy guineas 
for the saint ; slower, slower, slower. 

At last the auctioneer reached a hundred. 
Then came a long pause. I could not bear to 
think that that coarse-looking dealer with the 
vulgar laugh — fat, sleek, materialised — should 
possess my patron. A young man with a 
sweet voice (on whose forehead I seemed to 
see the red star of St. Dominic) had bid up to 
ninety-five. How I hoped he would con- 
tinue ! But he was silent at the hundred. I 
could no longer contain myself. The fairy 
godmother at my elbow impelled me. With 
an effort I gasped out, " A hundred and 
five ! " — ^just to keep up the bidding. 

"Going at a hundred and five! A hundred 
and five guineas ! A genuine Fra Angelico ! 
This exquisite work ! So small a price ! 
Does no other gentleman offer ?" He made 
a dramatic pause. Then down came the 
hammer. " The lady has it." 

In a second it rushed over me what I had 
done. 1 gasped in my embarrassment. A 
clerk drew near and murmured something 
inaudible about "conditions of sale." Through 
a mist of words I caught faint echoes of 
" Five per cent, at once, and the balance 
before to-morrow." 


My face was fiery red. I had dim dreams 
of prison. The youn^^ man with the sweet 
voice stole quietly up to me. 

"Excuse me," he said, in my ear; "one 
moment, before you complete this purchase. 
I want that picture. IVill you take five 
guineas for your bargain ? " 

" Five guineas ? " 1 cried, aghast. " For a 
picture worth more than a hundred." 

"You misunderstand me," he corrected. 
" I want that work very much — though I 
doubt its authenticity : I believe it to be only 
a contemporary replica. However, if you 
cede it to me, I will pay the money down 
and give you five guineas over. I did not 
care to go on bidding further agamst the 
dealer; he was running up the price: but I will 
buy it from you. Do you accept my offer?" 

Sic me servavit Apollo ! Thus St. Nicholas 
saved me ! I repented of my distrust, Twice 
was he tried at a pinch, and twice not found 
wanting ! 

In a haze, I assented. The stranger paid 
me the money, which I handed over to the 
clerk, less my own profit. Then I went 
forth into the street, a rich woman once 
more, with an almost inexhaustible capital 
of five guineas. 



Was it St. Nicholas, I wonder, or the fairy 
godmother ? 

The question is important, from the doc- 
trinal point of view, for it involves the con- 
flict between the faith and paganism. 

But my own opinion is that the young man 
with the star of Dominic on his brow was 
St. Nicholas himself, come down to earth yet 
another time with a purse of five guineas for 
a maiden's dower. So have I seen him more 
than once descending from solid clouds, in 
ex voto's in Italy. 




" This story," you say, " is deficient in love- 

My dear critic, has anybody more reason 
to regret that fact than its author ? I have 
felt it all along. Yet reflect upon the cir- 
cumstances. Ten thousand type-writer girls 
crowd London to-day, and 'tis precisely in 
this that their life is deficient — love-interest. 

Remember, I am only telling you my own 
poor little story ; and I am but an amateur 
story-teller. The professional novelist keeps 
in stock in her study a large number of vats, 
each marked (like drinks in a refreshment- 
room) with the names of their contents in gilt 
letters — " Sensation," " Character-sketches," 
" Humour," and so forth. She turns on the 
taps mechanically as they are needed. But 
by far the biggest vat is labelled " Love- 
interest." No matter what plot the pro- 
fessional novelist may invent, she lets this 



tap run, as soon as her puppets are devised, 
and drenches the whole work with an amatory 
solvent, exactly as the chemist dilutes his 
mixtures with distilled water to eight ounces. 
I, however, who am narrating to you the 
actual history of one stray girl among ten 
thousand in London, — what can I do but 
wait for the love-interest to develop itself? 

My name is Juliet ; you may well believe 
I have had moments when I thrilled with the 
expectation of a Romeo. But Romeos do not 
grow on every gooseberry bush. It were 
unreasonable to expect that any mere man is 
sufficient. You will admit, for instance, that 
neither the Grand Vizier, nor Rothenburg 
of the watery eyes, was precisely the ideal 
knight my fancy painted. St. George, to be 
sure, was a dear : but I suspected him of 
one fatal flaw — being married. 

I waited and watched for that not im- 
possible he; and the not impossible he still 
lurked unmaterialised. 

When I came into my fortune (of five 
guineas) my first impulse was naturally to 
repay Michaela (which I did at once by post- 
office order), and thus to transfer that particular 
square of mosaic pavement from its nether 
abode to some celestial mansion. My second 


was, to buy a bunch of tea-roses for my 
lodgings : and my third, to redeem my type- 
writer, so as to return to St. Nicholas, as 
some small mark of my gratitude, thirty 
shillings from his latest benefaction. 

On further thought, however, it occurred 
to me that thirty shillings in the hand are 
worth more at a crisis than a type-writer in 
the bush — a mixed metaphor which not even 
the printer's reader with his officious query 
shall prevail upon me to rectify. If no work 
came, I could live upon capital once more. 
Meanwhile, the machine could be of no pos- 
sible service. 

After three days, my hands were so far re- 
covered that I began to look about me for a 
situation again. I took up a daily paper and, 
in a column of mixed wants, read another 
"Wanted" advertisement: "Lady type-writer, 
with good knowledge of shorthand. Apply, 
Messrs. Blank and Sons, Publishers," — and 
the address followed. 

I liked the idea of a publisher's office, and 
I liked that advertisement. My theory is that 
a type-writer girl should call herself a type- 
writer girl ; but that an advertiser should do 
her the courtesy to speak of her as a Lady 
Type-writer, or something of the sort : cer- 


tainly not as a (parenthetical) female. Also, 
I must have literature. The literature at my 
aunt's consisted of ladies' newspapers, Bishop 
Jackson on "The Sinfulness of Little Sins," 
and books about the Holy Land. Here, I 
should have access to the Springs of Cul- 

So I hastened to apply for the vacant post. 
I was not the first this time ; I met a girl on 
the stairs, less strong than myself, coming 
down from the office with a most dejected 
countenance. If this were the struggle for 
life, it made my heart ache (for her sake) to 
think I must engage in it. However, I con- 
tinued on my way, and boldly stated my 
errand to the young man in attendance. That 
young man struck a keynote. He was neat, 
well-dressed, and had a black fringe of mous- 
tache ; in spite of which advantages he was 
not supercilious. His voice was a gentle- 
man's. He told me Mr. Blank would be dis- 
engaged in a moment; meanwhile, would I 
take a seat ? I sank into one and waited. 

The office was quite unlike Messrs. Flor and 
Fingelman's. The anteroom where I sat was 
exquisitely clean, and neatly fitted up with 
polished shelves and wood-work. An air of 
quiet culture pervaded the whole ; it seemed 


to communicate itself even to the clerks. In 
the pigeon-holes round the room stood rows 
of books in glazed paper covers, looking as 
spotless and as tidy as if a woman had 
arranged them. Well-known names adorned 
their backs. As for dust, it was not. 

In a few minutes came the word, " Mr. 
Blank will see you." 

I followed my guide, expecting to be 
ushered into a rather bare room with a vener- 
able gentleman seated at a table ; I pictured 
him, in fact, as the exact original of the hale 
old grey-beard who testifies in the omnibuses 
to the merits of Eno's Fruit Salt. For the 
firm is one of the most dignified in London. 
Instead of that, I found myself in a neat study, 
— ^too cosy for an office, too severe for a bou- 
doir. It had curtains of silken Samarcand, 
and fittings of cedared Lebanon. It had also 
a tawny Oriental carpet, and an old oak desk, 
at which sat a young man of modest and 
statuesque countenance. I guessed his age 
at twenty-seven. He rose undecided as I 
entered, like one whom native politeness im- 
pels to an act which he half fears is ill-suited 
to the occasion. As he turned towards me, 
I saw a face of notable strength and culture ; 
a finely-modelled nose, firm, yet soft in out- 


line ; acute brown eyes, piercing, but gentle ; 
abundant dark eyebrows that hung slightly 
over them and gave a masterful air to their 
keenness and penetration. His hair was 
black and shaggy, like a retriever's. He was 
tall, but well-knit. His eyes met mine as he 
gave a little inclination. A thrill ran through 
me. I knew him as by instinct. I said to 
myself, " A Romeo ! " 

1 suppose I was the only person in London 
at the time who did not know that the head 
of the firm had lately died, and been suc- 
ceeded by his son, an Eton boy and Oxford 
man, who had taken high honours. 

Romeo waved me to a chair. " You have 
come, I think," he said, in a rich, clear voice, 
pausing for a minute out of instinctive cour- 
tesy before he seated himself, " in answer to 
our advertisement." 

"Yes," I replied ; " I understand you want 
a ty>3-writer girl." 

His eyebrows moved up at the words. 1 
could see they produced a favourable im- 
pression. He was accustomed to the formula 
" a lady to type-write for you." 

" Exactly," he answered, folding his hands, 
and trying to assume the official tone of a man 
of business ; though I was aware that he 


was unobtrusively observing my dress and 
appearance, not as Ahasuerus had done, like 
a cross between an Oriental monarch and a 
horse-dealer, but like a gentleman of keen 
insight, accustomed to take things in at a 
glance without disconcerting the object of 
his scrutiny. 

He put me a few stereotyped questions as 
to speed and qualifications, which I was for- 
tunately able to answer to his satisfaction. 
Then he went on in a deprecat^ory way, " I 
must ask you, I am afraid, to w i . .e a little to 
my dictation, and then transcribe what you 
have written. Excuse this detail. One must 
test your ability." 

" Of course," I assented, producing my 

" We have had applicants already who did 
not suit my requirements. One left as you 
arrived. I — I was sorry not to be able to 
engage her ; for I judged her to be in want ; 
but — she was quite incompetent." He spoke 

" I met her on the stairs," I replied. " She 
appeared to be downcast." 

He gave me a hurried glance, for there was 
pity in my tone. " It is so unfortunate," he 
said, " that one must insist on competence ! 


For often the incompetent most need em- 

" There is a beautiful story," I answered, 
" about Robert Owen, when somebody patted 
the head of a very pretty child at his school 
at Harmony Hall. ' You are like all the rest,' 
said Owen; 'you pat the prettiest. But it 
is the ugly ones that need encouragement.' 
That was true philanthropy." 

He looked me through and through. I 
took out my note-book, and assumed a busi- 
ness-like air. He reached down a volume of 
some History of Greece, and began dictating 
rapidly. The passage, chosen of set purpose, 
was full of Greek names, and rather recondite 
words of technical import, I saw he had 
selected it as a test of knowledge as well as 

of speed. I was glad I had been at But 

that would be confessing. I wrote rapidly 
and well — more rapidly, I think, than I had 
ever before done ; and I knew why : he was 
a Romeo. 

" Do I go too fast ? " he asked at last, 
looking up at me suddenly with a gentle 

" Not at all," I replied. " You might try a 
little faster, if you like, as you really wish to 
test me." 



" And you know the names ? " he inquired 
with an incredulous accent. 

" Perfectly. Please go on ; ' the hegemony 
of Thebes * was the last clause you dictated." 

He continued to the end. ' Boeotia thus 
lost the flower of her hoplites,' were the 
words with which he finished. 

I wrote it all out in long-hand, very clearly 
and distinctly. He ran his eye over it. " But 
this is excellent ! " he said at last, glancing at 
it close. " You have all the words right. 
You must have studied Greek, haven't you ? " 

I temporised. " A little." 

He paused again. Then, after a few ques- 
tions to draw me out, especially as to attain- 
ments, he began rather timidly. "This is 
precisely what I want. I require a lady of 
education, who can take down instructions 
and write letters to authors on the subject- 
matter of their works, without need for 
correction. But — I'm afraid the post would 
hardly suit you. If you will excuse my 
saying so, you are too good for the place. I 
do not mean as to salary — that, no doubt, I 
could arrange ... in accordance . 
with qualifications." He glanced quickly at 
my black dress again. " But I fear — I fear 
you will find the work beneath you." 


" You can set your mind entirely at rest 
on that score,' I answered frankly. "I will 
tell you the plain truth — I am in need 
of a situation, and shall be glad to get 

He hesitated once more. " Still, I feel 
doubts of conscience," he went on. " I will 
be quite open with you. You may think me 
quixotic, but I have ideas of my own — social 
ideas — some people might even say socialistic. 
Here is this work, which I have it in my 
hands to bestow ; which I hold as a trust, 
almost. It would suffice to keep some poor 
lady's wants supplied — some lady who is in 
need of actual necessaries. Now, I do not 
think it right that young gentlewomen who 
have all they need already found them at 
home should compete in the market against 
poor girls in search of a bare subsistence. 
They ought not to deprive such girls of 
bread in order to add to their own pin-money. 
This movement for ' doing something' on the 
part of well-to-do women is pressing hard on 
the girls of the lower middle-class. Pardon 
my putting it so ; but 3 ou come from a home, 
no doubt, where you have all you require ; 
and you seek this work just to increase your 


I 3 


1 thought it was sweet of him. I could see 
I was exactly the person he wanted ; yet for 
a matter of principle he was prepared to take 
someone possibly less suited to his special re- 
quirements. I was glad that I could answer 
with the ring of truth, " There, you are quite 
mistaken. I am one of the class whom you 
desire to employ — in fact, a girl in search of 
a bare subsistence. I do not say so in order 
to appeal to your generosity ; I only wish to 
obtain work on my merits for what my ser- 
vices are worth in the open market But if, 
as you say, I prove a suitable person for your 
purpose in other respects, you need have no 
scruple on the grounds you suggest about 
employing me. I have nothing to live upon 
save what I can earn by type-writing." 

He blushed like a girl of eighteen. He 
was distressed that he had driven me into 
making this avowal. " Oh, forgive me," he 
said, rising again from his chair. " I — it was 
awkward of me to put it thus bluntly. But 
you are so evidently a lady of education that 
I took it for granted — you will understand 
my natural error, I only hesitated to give 
a post which might be filled by a person 
in need of employment to an amateur who 
wanted occupation and pocket-money." 


"I quite understand," I answered. "Out 
bicycling last week, I passed a common where 
shaggy donkeys, with unkempt coats, stood 
in the sunsliint; dejected, hanging their heads 
as if they had been reading Schopenhauer." 
(He looked up suddenly at the name with an 
inquiring glance.) " But their mood was 
justified ; for geese were tugging at the 
short grass hard by, nibbling it close to the 
root ; and I felt the four-footed beasts might 
well be melancholy at the struggle for life 
when birds, winged creatures that may career 
over the world, took to competing with them 
by grazing like cattle, and snatched the bread 
out of the donkey's mouth." 

His face wore an amused smile. " But 
you are learned," he put in. "You might 
obviovtsly be engaged in so much higher 
work — a teacher's, for instance." 

" I should hate teaching ! " I cried vehe- 
mently, " I prefer freedom. I am prepared 
for th<: drudgery of earning my livelihood in a 
house of business. But I must realise myself." 

"I understand that," he answered; "and — 
and sympathise with it. Well, I apologise for 
my mistake. Under the circumstances, we 
need only proceed to arrange the business 
part of this transaction." 


He named a weekly sum. It was my turn 
to blush. "That is too much," I exclaimed. 
I could see he was fixing it, not by the 
market price, but by what he thought a suffi- 
cient income for a person of my presumed 
position in society. It was all so alien from 
Ahasuerus's way of hiring a Shorthand and 
Type-writer (female). 

" Not for so competent an assistant," he 
answered, still nervous. 

Awkward as it might be to begin one's 
relations with a new employer by an apparent 
contest of generosity, yet I could not accept 
the sum he proposed. I told him so in plain 
words ; he insisted : I beat him down. After 
a brief but well-contested skirmish, I camped 
on the field as victor, though we compromised 
for a wage a little less than half-way between 
what he wished to give and what I was pre- 
pared to accept. It did not escape me at the 
time, however, that such a first step almost 
of necessity entailed a certain sentimental 
tinge in our relations : they would scarce be 
those of employer and employed, as regulated 
by custom and political economy. 

When all protocols were settled he went 
on, "Can you come in at once ?" 

"To-day, if you wish it." 


"Oh, that would be such a convenience 
to me ! I have matters to settle which I do 
not wish to hand over just now to my 
clerks ; it was my desire that you sliould act 
as confidential letter-writer in my dt alings 
with authors, quite outside the business." 

"I will begin this afternoon," I said. 

" Our type-writing machine — the one I in- 
tended for you — is " I forget precisely 

which make he mentioned, but it was one to 
whose keyboard I was unaccustomed. " Can 
you work with it ? " 

" No," I answered. " But I have my own. 
I will bring it." 

" How kind of you ! Though you must not 
continue to use it, of course. We have no 
right to impose upon you the wear and tear. 
If you will tell me which sort you prefer, it 
shall be here to-morrow. Meanwhile, for to- 
day, if you would bring round your own, I 
should be greatly obliged to you." 

" I will go and fetch it," I said, remember- 
ing that it lay close by in St. Nicholas's safe 

" How ? In a cab ? " 

I smiled. His politeness positively embar- 
rassed me. " No ; in my hands," I replied. 
" I am accustomed to carry it." 


" But type-writers are so heavy," he remon- 
strated. (I felt his anxiety to treat me like a 
lady was leading: to complications, and I half 
regretted the Grand Vizier's lofty sense of 
masculine superiority.) " Had you not better 
take a cab ? " 

"No," I answered with firmness ; for I 
felt I must put a stop to this strain at the out- 
set. An employer should know his place. 
" I can carry it easily, thank you." 

He looked at me with a curious look. I 
suppose I have the average endowment of 
feminine intuition ; and I felt sure he was 
debating in his own mind whether or not he 
should tell me to call a hansom and charge it 
to the office. It was my own old duologue 
of Inclination and Duty, Inclination said, 
" Make her take it " ; Duty interposed, " You 
must begin as you mean to go on. This is 
an office matter. If she cannot work your 
machine, and wishes to bring her own, she 
must convey it at her own expense. You 
have no ground to stand upon." 

After a pause in which, as I could see, 
either impulse got the upper hand alternately, 
he compromised the matter. " Is it far ? " he 

"Close by. I can fetch it in five minutes." 


" Then one of my clerks will step round 
with you and carry it for you." 

I blushed bright crimson. I iiad imagined 
shyness to be (like " sensibility," hysterics, 
and fainting) an obsolete disease of tiie early 
Victorian epoch. I now knew that it survived 
into our own time. I could feel the hot blood 
flooding my ears and cheeks, and running 
dovv^n my neck. What on earth could I 
answer ? How let the clerk see where I had 
left my machine ? How confess to Romeo to 
whose keeping I had confided it ? He could 
never understand that, to a girl of my 
temperament, those golden balls were but 
the mystic symbol of the saint of Myra. I 
knew not what to answer. I stood still and 
blushed ; and my blush it was that betrayed, 
yet saved me. 

Lifting my eyes one second in a mute 
appeal, I saw right into his soul as he stood 
there, facing me, more nervous, more em- 
barrassed than ever. I saw he divined that 
I lived in some poor quarter, or had a drunken 
mother, or something equally discreditable, 
and was ashamed to let his clerk know it. 
But he withdrew, like a gentleman that he 
was to the finger-ends. " How stupid of 
me! " he went on. "I see, of course, it would 


be unpleasant for you to walk down the 
street with one of my clerks — though they 
are nice young men, all of them. Excuse my 
gamheric. Hut — you are coming in at once 
to oblige me ; I ought to have arranged to 
have a machine here to suit you. Won't you 
please take a cab, and allow me to — to charge 
it to the office?" 

He had got it out at last. I changed colour 
once more. To hide my shyness — for to my 
vast surprise, I was speechlessly shy by this 
time — I pulled out my handkerchief. As fate 
would have it — fate that mocks at human 
souls — I drew with it from my pocket a little 
square of blue paper which fell, face down- 
ward, on the floor. How can I confess the 
truth ? It was — the counterfoil or ticket I 
had received for my machine from the repre- 
sentative of )6i. Nicholas. 



I GRIEVE to hint a doubt of my chosen patron, 
but enlarged experience of St. Nicholas has 
led me to believe that he lacks consistency. 
His action is jerky. Though he will often 
sweep down, as of old, in a pale haze of glory, 
to rescue some votary from instant shipwreck, 
he is hardly a saint in whom a girl can repose 
implicit confidence. At tight places of social 
trial he is apt to fail one. 

I had but one consolation. The ticket had 
fallen on the floor face downward. 

I stooped to pick it up. My cheeks, I 
feel sure, must have glowed with crimson. 
Shame tingled in my ears. But Romeo was 
beforehand with me. He raised the scrap of 
paper and handed it to me, still face down- 
ward, with a faint inclination. I lifted my 
lowered eyelids. My swimming eyes par- ' 
leyed with his for a second. I cannot say 
whether he was aware what manner of thing 




he was passing me ; but I fancy he did know. 
Yet if he knew I felt sure he interpreted the 
episode aright, for his glance was one of mute 
respect and symi)at]iy. 

I crushed the unspeakable pasteboard into 
my pocket, never uttering a word, and rushed, 
hot and red, from the room, without daring to 
speak to him. 

On the stairs I debated whether I could 
ever come back. Prudence and Shame fought 
it out between them. Prudence won. I de- 
termined to go on as if nought untoward had 

I might have failed, even so, in my resolu- 
tion, had it not chanced that my road to the 
Depository of my machine lay past the eating- 
house where I was wont to retire for bodily 
refreshment from Flor and Fingelman's. As 
I reached the door a hand touched my arm. 
I looked round, startled, and saw the Grand 
Vizier, outward bound from luncheon, with 
his hairy hands, his goggle eyes, his shiny 
black coat grown green on the seams, and his 
false diamond pin shaped like a shoe of the 
noble animal. 

"Good-morning, miss," he said in a pert tone. 

I echoed his salute, and made as though I 
would pass on hurriedly. But I noted in 


his accent, even from the three words he 
had spoken, a change of mien ; he was 
almost what for him might be deemed re- 

" Look here," he went on, striding after me, 
and keeping abreast of me against my will. 
" That was a devilish clever letter of yours — 
to the governor, you know — a devilish clever 
letter ! " 

" I am proud to have earned the approba- 
tion of so competent a critic," I answered in 
my chilliest voice. " Praise from Sir Hubert 
Stanley " 

He glanced at me with suspicion. I think 
his first and most flattered idea was that I 
mistook him for a distinguished baronet ; his 
second, neutral in tint, that I was mad ; his 
third, and most reluctant, that I was poking 
sly fun at him. 

" Look here," he began again — it was his 
formula for introducing a fresh paragraph in 
his converse — " I've got an invitation for you. 
I've been looking about for you everywhere. 
Will you come with me on Thursday night, 
dress circle, at the Olympic ? " 

He rolled it out impressively, as one who 
felt sure that the solemnity of the dress circle 
would subdue my stubborn neck. 


" No, thanks," I answered ; " I never go to 
theatres with casual acquaintances." 

Then I walked on still faster, for I foresaw 
that I must often meet him in future, since our 
offices lay close together ; and I judged it best 
to let him see at once I did not crave the 
honour of his society. 

'* Oh, but this is on the square," he went 
on. "You don't understand. You think I 
don't mean right by you because ! am a 
gentleman in a position of Trust and Re- 
sponsibility, and you are " — he was about to 
say "a type-writer girl," but he checked him- 
self in time and substituted for it the phrase 
" a lady stenographer." " While you were at 
the office," he went on, " I couldn't treat you 
on equal terms, of course, because of my 
official position- But when I read that letter 
I saw at one glance you had brains ; and 
I like a girl with brains, and I mean to walk 
out with one." 

" Indeed ? " I answered. " Then I advise 
you not to waste your valuable time on a 
woman who does not pant for that privilege," 

He let his mouth drop open. " But it's a 
ticket for two," he expostulated, " given me 
by a friend of mine who takes a part in the 
piece. You'd better think twice. It isn't 


every day one gets a chance of a seat in the 
dress circle. And if I go at all I like to take 
a young lady." 

This marked advance. I had gone up in 
the world. At Southu. oton Row I had been 
"a young person." 

He continued to talk, and I continued to 
turn my coldest shoulder. 

At last we reached the door of the Deposi- 
tory, The goggle eyes ogled me. I saw that 
some violent act was needful if I were to 
escape persecution at the man's hands in 
future. I paused by the step. " I am going 
in here," I said, bravely. 

The Vizier did not observe the peculiar 
character of the shop as a shrine of St. 
Nicholas. "I will wait for you," he answered, 
waving one hairy hand with cheerful prompti- 

I braced myself up for a deadly thrust. "I 
have left my machine here," I went on in a 
cold clear voice, " and I am going in . . . 
to redeem it. I shall then carry it home. A 
Gentleman in a position of Trust and Respon- 
sibility will not like to be seen by my side as 
I carry it." 

He glanced up at the mystic sign — one 
glance, no more. I saw his face grow pale. 


To SO respectable a man such conduct was 
inexplicable. Refuse a ticket for the dress 

circle, and yet 

I darted in, with the same fierce flush of 
shame and repugnance as before. But this 
time the need for getting rid of him had given 
me false courage. 

When I emerged with the machine, a limp 
flaccid creature, half-dead with disgust, the 
Grand Vizier had melted away, disappeared 
among the phantoms. So again Apollo or St. 
Nicholas had saved me. 

Our courses crossed afterwards in the street 
many times. But his tolerance of type-writer 
girls had its proper limits. He tacked across 
to the other side as I hove in sight lest he 
should be exposed to the risk of having to 
acknowledge a salute from so compromising a 

I will say for St. Nicholas that though he 
has curious methods of bringing about the 
deliverance of those who trust him, he is a 
gentleman at heart, and he usually succeeds 
in the end in giving efl'ect to his benevolent 



It is a far cry from Verona to London. The 
ways of the Corso are not the ways of Pall Mall. 
Therefore, when I admit that my heart cried 
" A Romeo ! " you are not to infer that I had 
fallen in love with him. I merely mean that I 
recognised in my new friend the type of man 
who might conceivably command my heart and 
me, should fate so will it. 

When Romeo of Verona first saw his Juliet 
at the Capulets' masque, 'tis on record that, at 
first sight of her, he forgot fair Rosaline (for 
whose sake but one hour earlier he was dying 
to die), and seizing his new goddess's hand, 
assured her, without preamble or introduction, 
that his lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stood 
to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss; 
while Juliet, in return, was prepared to avow 
at a glance that if the stranger were married 
her grave was like to be her wedding bed. 
Those be the modes of Verona, as vouched by 


Shakespeare. Our northern hearts, however, 
have not the instant electric responsiveness of 
Italian breasts. Love with us is the child, 
not the mother of acquaintance. And though 
I thought of my Romeo as Romeo from the 
first moment I beheld him, never calling him 
in my soul by any other name, yet 'twas but 
some prophetic fancy on my part. For many 
weeks he figured as no more than my em- 

Juliet of Verona, if I recollect aright, when 
she flung herself upon Romeo, was not yet 
full fourteen till Lammas night ; at her age our 
northern maid, with her fair hair down, has 
conceived a romantic attachment for chocolate- 
creams and the prettiest of her governesses. I 
was twenty-two; and twenty-two, that mature 
age, takes time to consider. Moreover, it waits 
till its Romeo asks it. 

For, pretend as we will, the plain truth is 
this: woman is plastic till the predestined man 
appears; then she takes the mould he chooses 
to impose upon her. Men make their own 
lives, women's are made for them. Why, 
one of my dearest friends at the Guild — an 
ethereal being — was wont to pace the garden 
with a vellum-covered Rossetti or Pater in her 
pocket, composing chants-royal Lo the moon 


and to divine love, till a man loomed on the 
horizon — a man in a Norfolk jacket, with a 
commission in the Guards and estates in the 
Midlands; whereupon she exchanged the Ros- 
setti all at once for a blear-eyed ferret, and 
strolled about the lanes accompanied by a fox- 
terrier and a Cuban bloodhound. This is not 
poetical, but 'tis life as I have noted it. 

To cut moralising short, I settled down at 
once to work at my Romeo's. 

When I arrived there with my machine, 
more dead than alive with shame, the good- 
looking clerk carried it upstairs for me 
reverently. He was a comely youth, with 
a clean round face, Devonshire apple cheeks, 
and pleasant parsonage manners ; he came, 
indeed, as I discovered later, from an Exmoor 
rectory. A table was set for me in Romeo's 
own room. I feared to invade that sanctum. 
"Am I to sit right here?" I asked. He 
smiled and answered, " Right there." So 
I took my place under protest. Thenceforth, 
I was part of the furniture of his study. 

My life at Romeo's was a life of routine. 
Now routine (varied by outbreaks) is ex- 
cellent for the nerves ; but it does not afford 
material for romance. It is the drab of life : 
art insists rather on the purple and scarlet. 

K 2 


So I make no apology for dealing with it here 
only in a few brief episodes. 

All our history is episode, with blanks 
between, which just serve conveniently to 
divide the chapters. 

At home, my social circle was limited to 
Mr. Commissioner Lin : my conversation 
to " Did 'ums, then ? did 'ums ? " At occa- 
sional intervals I dined with my aunt, who 
abode at Paddington : but I did not j'^earn to 
make that joy too common. M3' revered 
relation has all the vices of the decayed 
gentlewoman : unheroic vices, which interest 
nobody. She hoards bits of string, and half- 
sheets of note-paper. Her table, her ideas, 
and her discourse are meagre. She entertains 
angels, disguised as curates, and is a prop 
of the Deaconesses' Institute. 

At the office, I had my seat in Romeo's 
own room. Poverty emancipates. It often 
occurred to me how different things would 
have been had my dear father lived, and had 
I remained a young lady. In that case, 
I could have seen Romeo at intervals only, 
under shelter of a chaperon ; as it was, no 
one hinted the faintest impropriety in the 
fact that the type-writer girl was left alone 
with him half the day in the privacy of his 


Study. Not that this freedom gave me much 
occasion (at first) for talk with Romeo. He 
was courtesy itself, and by nature conversible : 
but his chivalrous feelings, and his sense 
of my isolation, made him chary of speaking. 
He dictated all day, or left me to transcribe ; 
but he seldom broke silence save on matters 
of business. 

Nevertheless, from the outset, he was 
markedly kind to me. I had two nice boys 
at hand to run errands and carry my notes ; 
one, a skimpy London imp, compact of saucy 
humour ; I called him Puck : the other, 
a slender lad of fifteen, pale, delicate, girlishly 
pretty, with long straw-coloured hair and 
a distracted manner, whom I rechristened 
Ariel. Romeo gradually adopted this trick 
of speech from me. It is a habit of mine (as 
you may have observed) to invent names 
for my friends ; and these generally stick — 
I suppose because I borrovr them as a rule 
from the poets, who have classified us into 
types which recur perennially. 

After I had been at the office a few weeks, 
I happened one day to slip into some Ameri- 
canism. Though I have seen little of America 
(having gone there but once on a visit to my 
father's folk at Salem when I was not quite 


fifteen) I have inherited from my ancestry not 
a few Massachusetts idioms, one or other of 
which I sometimes let drop, unconsciously 
to myself, in the course of conversation. 
Romeo snapped at the word at once. " Why, 
you must be a New Englander ! " 

" Not quite," I answered, flushing. " My 
father was born at Salem, an American 
citizen ; but he became naturalised in England 
young, and was a British officer." 

" Not in the army ? " Romeo cried, sur- 

"Yes," 1 answered. " Why not? A colonel." 

I grew hot as I spoke. For the first and 
only time, I think Romeo doubted me. 
"Then you — must have — a pension," he 
broke out, slowly. 

It was partly desire to avoid telling the 
truth, partly a certain native love of mystifica- 
tion — or rather of piquing other people's 
curiosity ; but I answered with a touch of 
defiance, "An officer's daughter loses her 
pension on marriage. I may be married, 
perhaps — or separated — or a widow." And 
I bent down over my work to hide my 
heightened colour. 

He gazed at me for a second ; his eye fell 
on my left hand ; then he glanced away. 


I could see him saying to himself he had no 
right to cross-question me. But interest in 
me prevailed. He drew near, and stood 
over me. "You must forgive my persistence," 
he said, gently, in his modulated voice — each 
syllable clear as crystal — "but I feel con- 
strained to ask you. Have you really a 
pension ? . . . . For if so, you have 
misled me." 

I looked up at him with proud eyes. My 
father's blood rose hot in me. " I must tell 
you the truth," I said, " or you will think I 
am ashamed of my father. I am not ashamed; 
I am proud of him. He was an English 
colonel ; but I have no pension. He was a 
very brave man. He threw up his commis- 
sion, in time of war, at a moment of danger, 
almost in face of the enemy, because he would 
not carry out orders which seemed to him 
unjust. And he died of anxiety and fever 
just after, on the West Coast of Africa." 

" I remember the case. Pray forgive me. 
It was cruel of me to drive you." 

" Not at all. I am glad you did. Now you 
will understand better." 

I rose, flushed, and faced him. " They say 
a soldier should resign his conscience into the 
keeping^ of the Queen's advisers. My father 


could not. He felt wrong v/as being done. 
He would not make his judgment blind. He 
left me poor by it ; and I am proud of it — 
proud of him." 

"You have reason to be proud," Romeo 
answered. "I recall it all now. His previous 
record showed it was courage, not cowardice. 
I honoured him for it at the time — though 
the world thought otherwise." 

"Thank you," I said in a low voice. "May 
I go now ? It is nearly five. And I feel, 
after this, I can do no more work this even- 

He opened the door for me and bowed even 
more respectfully than usual. There was 
sympathy in every movement. I felt he 
understood. I felt I had made a friend. I 
felt, still more surely than before, that this 
was my Romeo. 



I REGRET to say that from that day forth 
Romeo was more marked in his courtesy to 
me than ever. His manner had always a 
tinge of sweet antique courtliness ; but now 
he surpassed himself I regret it, I say, 
because I was afraid I recognised in this 
courtesy some lingering undercurrent of class 
feeling. The dear fellow would have been 
polite to a type-writer girl from the dregs of 
the people, no doubt — he did not know how 
to be less than polite to anyone ; but he was 
politer still when he understood that I was an 
officer's daughter, and (as he learned a week 
later) that my mother had sprung from a great 
Anglo-Indian family. This was treason to his 
principles ; for Romeo, as he had said, was 
more than half a socialist ; but I condoned that 
fault for the sake of his unvarying kindness. 

Besides, I think he thought well of me 
because I was loyal to my father's memory. 


As though anyone who had known my dear 
father could have been otherwise ! 

Romeo published for Sidney Trevelyan. 
From the moment when I first noticed "An 
Heir of the Fiantagenets" among the rows of 
books in glazed paper covers in the pigeon- 
holes, I had always longed to be present 
some day when the famous novelist came in 
to discuss royalties or editions de luxe with his 
publisher. Sidney Trevelyan's name was 
like Charing Cross or Hyde Park Corner — a 
familiar piece of public property. One after- 
noon I had my will. I was seated at my 
table, clicking away at some letters, when I 
heard on the stairs a rich strident voice, 
diffusing itself very loud in clear shrill 
accents, I know lot which struck me most, 
its richness or its stridency. It was a sonor- 
ous voice, which one turn of a note would 
have made unendurable. "He is in his lair?" 
it said, filling the room. " Plotting schemes 
to suck my blood ? Then I will track him to 
his earth — the young vampire. My dear 
Barabbas, how are you ? " 

He burst into the sanctum, a whirlwind of 
a man — large, loose-limbed, masterful, with a 
restless grey eye, and a huge mop of brown 
hair, shot with thread- of russet. Romeo 


rose to greet him. He flung himself into a 
chair. It creaked beneath his elephantine 
weight. I left off clicking at once, and went 
on with a piece of long-hand transcription. 
Or rather, to be frank, I feigned to transcribe, 
though my pen was inkless. 

As a rule, when authors came, 'twas my 
place to leave the study for awhile, and take 
refuge with Puck and Ariel in the anteroom. 
But as the great man entered — two yards of 
humanity, double width — Romeo signed to 
me to remain, with a quick movement of the 
eyebrow. He knew my wish, and was kind 
enough to remember it. I counted it to him 
for righteousness. 

Sidney Trevelyan sniff'ed, and scanned the 
room, with its Oriental hangings, and its scent 
of cedar-wood. "A nice den, Barabbas, a 
nice den ! " he observed, in a condescending 
tone; "an Ali Baba's cave, rich with bones 
of authors; vastly improved since the days of 
the old robber ! " 

Romeo winced. Like myself, he respected 
his father. 

" You have garnished it afresh," the great 
novelist continued, "from the spoils of the 
Egyptians. You have decked yourself in 
purple and fine linen ! Well, 'tis well you 


should be comfortable in this world, no doubt: 

for in the next But I refrain from painting 

a Tartarean picture. Dante has done it so 
well before me that, like the grocer in my 
street, he de^es competition. I see you, my 
dear Barabbas," he raised his voice still 
louder, almost lapsing into a falsetto, "I see 
you lolling here in Eastern opulence, bathed in 
Cyprian perfumes, and fanned by obsequious 
Circassian odalisques" — I/^//him glance my 
way, though my eyes were fixed on my paper ; 
" I see you,)ike the sultan in Shelley's //(?//a5, 
surrounded by large-eyed houris, of volup- 
tuous bosoms, who strew your restless pillow 
with opiate flowers — I call your pillow rest- 
less, my dear fellow, partly because that was 
Shelley's epithet, if memory serves me, but 
partly also because a publisher (especially a 
young one) can scarcely expect to enjoy 
sound slumber ; later on, no doubt, as he 
becomes hardened in crime, he sleeps as well 
as a digestion impaired by old port permits ; 
but at first, remorse must disturb his fitful 
rest — I see you, I say, with opiate flowers on 
your couch stripped — what was the rhyme ? 
— ah, yes, 'flowers,' 'pillow' — stripped from 
orient bowers by the Indian billow. That is 
the picture — here. But at last comes the 


awakening." He struck a dramatic attitude, 
and held up one hand , he had impressive 
fat hands, which seemed always in evidence. 
" You start from your sleep like Mahmood. 
' Man the seraglio — guard ! Make fast the 
gate ! ' You dream yourself still lapped in 
Eastern magnificence. Then . . . . ha ! 
what's this ? An odour of brimstone — a 
pallid whiff of blue flame — Mephistopheles 
smiling grimly on the victim he has landed — 
you know where you are — unlike the current 
hero of music-hall romance — you stretch dim 
hands of fear and grope — j^ou sink down, 
down, down, on a couch of liquid fire. 'All 
is lost ! Why was I ever a publisher ? ' In 
which of his circles did Dante place publishers? 
Was it not close between the avaricious and 
the prevaricators ? But aloft in the empyrean, 
pillowed on purple cloud, meanwhile, I enjoy 
that delight upon which Tertullian insisted 
as a prime element in the ecstasy of the Blest 

— the delight of beholding you But your 

satellites overhear me ! Sense of discipline 
forbids ! Barabbas," he waved his hand, " I 
draw a veil over your future condition ! " 

He paused for want of breath. Most fat 
men are sluggish : this mountain of flesh was 
alive and volcanic in every atom. Romeo 


began in his soft voice, "And on what par- 
ticular conspiracy of crime have you come to- 
day to consult the habitual criminal ? " 

Sidney Trevelyan smiled. He liked to be 
taken in his mood. " Well, my business," 
he said, "is, as you anticipate, a fresh raid 
against the purses of the Philistines. We 
must spoil them, my dear Barabbas ; we must 
spoil them, in unison. Here, our interests 
are identical. They have taken two thousand, 
I see, of the three-volume 'Mahatmas,' That's 
not enough ; you must issue at once a six- 
shilling edition. Grovelling beasts, prone in 
the mud they love, what do they mean by 
rejecting this so great salvation? Let Mudies 
see to it ! I shall answer their neglect by 
flinging back ' Mahatmas' in their teeth for six 
shillings. I know whence it comes, this re- 
buff: those ignorant parrots, the critics. They 
toss at me ever their parrot cry of ' Artificial, 
artificial ! ' Their own thoughts grub and 
grunt in the mud of their sty, and they blame 
it to the eagle that he should circle about 
gleaming icy peaks in clear ether. ' Un- 
natural,' they say; 'Overloaded.' That man 
Snigg, or Snagg, or Snogg — something Teu- 
tonic and unlovely — I decline to remember 
his honoured name — he reviewed me in the 


Parthenon. He has no wings himself, and 
therefore he thinks flight an indecent gambol- 
Hng. But what do I care for the whole crew ? 
Not an obolus, not a doit — neither for Snagg 
nor Bagg, neither for Archer nor Parcher." 

He paused again to catch breath. In the 
lull, Romeo put in quietly, " It is too soon, 
in my opinion, for a cheap edition." 

" No, Barabbas, it is not; it is the pyscho- 
logical moment. The world awaits it with 
hushed breath. Six shillings — bound in cloth 
— Irish linen — dark green — a subtle shade — 
a shade I have in my mind's eye — like laven- 
der leaves in spring, when the sap mounts 
emerald through sea-hoary stems. You catch 
my idea? A green not wholly green, not 
altogether blue, not grey, not glaucous, but 
something of all, and more than all; with a 
cunning design by that mad young Belgian 
— withy-bands that twist into interlacing 
dragons ; the title in their midst, in some- 
v/hat Celtic letters." 

He broke off abruptly. Once more I 
could feel him glance my way. I seemed to 
see through the back of my head. I was 
sensitive to his movements. 

Suddenly, he burst out in a quite different 
voice, snorting like a war-horse : " Send that 


''' young woman away ! " he cried, executing a 
sort of ponderous rhinoceros-dance before 
me. " Send her away ! I tell you I can't 
stand her. I won't have her scribbling there 
and making notes of all I say. She's a para- 
graphist — a paragraphist : the vilest spawn 
on God's earth, a paragraphist ! What do 
you mean by setting spavined shorthand 
writers to report my obiter dicta ? " He 
advanced towards me, striding : I had risen 
hurriedly. "Go off!" he cried, waving his 
hands at me as if I were a gadfly. " Go off! 
I won't be listened to and paragraphed. I 
could feel you paragraphing me. Away, 
young woman : away with you." And by 
dint of sheer bulk, he drove me before 

Romeo opened the door for me. He spoke 
with deference. " I think, Miss Appleton," he 
said, " you had better take a seat in the ante- 
room for the moment, as your presence here 
seems to disturb Mr. Trevelyan." 

I went out, mystified. As the door closed 
behind me, I heard the great man snort again. 
" Now, really, Barabbas, if you choose to keep 
dubky Samian slaves chained in your lair 
for your hours of leisure, you should have 
the decency to unchain them when fellow- 


conspirators come in with proposals for a 
joint campaign against Askelon." 

I sat in the anteroom for half an hour. 
Ariel gazed in my face with sympathetic 
inquiry. " The old bear was rude ? " he 
asked at last, in a low voice. 

"I might almost call him so." 

"It is his way," Ariel replied. "He seems 
to wipe his shoes on one." 

" But he's not a bad old chap, either," Puck 
put in. " He chucked me half-a-crown once 
for going a message for him." 

"And called you a Tartar-nosed imp," 
Ariel added ; " and hit you in the eye with it." 

" He is a very great genius," I observed, 
sententiously, half to salve my own offended 

" But a genius is a man," Ariel remarked. 
And I felt he had reason. 

Twenty minutes later, the famous writer 
emerged. He cast a scowl at me in pass- 
ing. " Change your type-writer woman ! " he 
said curtly to Romeo. " Good-bye, my dear 
Barabbas. Rob on, rob ever." His broad 
back vanished down the staircase like a sink- 
ing hippopotamus. 

" Well ? " Romeo asked, with an anxious 
face, as I returned to my post when the tor- 


nado had passed. " Nov^ you have seen him, 
what do you think of Sidiey Trevelyan ?" 

" I think," I said, " I would rather be a 
Barabbas than a Byron. ' 




"Sidney Trevelyan is a great man," Romeo 
said to me later ; " but his ideas are too great 
— especially his idea of his own greatness. 
This taints life for him : he moves in an at- 
mosphere of social suspicion^ 'Tis his fixed 
belief that all the world is always thinking of 
him, when it is really doing as he does — 
thinking of itself. He imagines reporters as 
a sultan imagines poison, or as a tsar imagines 
nihilists ; he scents a paragraphist in every 
hedge, and a critic in every stranger." Which 
explains, I suppose, his odd behaviour. 

But my own opinion is that he needed an 
audience ; I could catch it in his voice that he 
meant me to overhear ; because I affected to 
be absorbed in my work he thought I was 
not listening, and that made him angry. 

Romeo was kindness itself to me ; yet I 
dare say I might never have grown to know 
him better had it not been for the special 

L 2 


providence of an accident — or the accident of 
a special providence ; put it whichever way 
best suits your philosophy. 

Straying one afternoon through the Cretan 
labyrinth of Soho, I happened to note a 
young girl, very poorly dressed, but with the 
air of a lady, staring in at a confectioner's. 
Her lace struck a chord. I ransacked my 
memory for it in vain. Then I recalled in a 
flash where I had met her before ; she was 
the girl whom I had passed on the stairs at 
Romeo's on the day when I went to apply 
for the situation ; the girl whom I had sup- 
planted in the struggle for existence. 

Her shrinking figure, her whipped air, 
made me turn to ask an inevitable question : 
" Have you found work yet ? " 

" No, none," she said dejectedly. " How 
came you to know I wanted it ? " 

I explained where I had seen her, and how 
I had heard or guessed her errand. She 
seemed unduly grateful. My heart was 
touched, for though I doubt not you think 
me, on my own evidence, a heartless young 
woman, I have a heart, after all, when 
aught occurs to rouse it. I reflected at 
once how even my gentle Romeo had said 
of this poor child that she was hope- 


lessly incompetent. Still, the incompetent 
have mouths to feed, and bodies to clothe, 
and possibly, also, souls to save, like the 
rest of us. The struggle for life has not 
quite choked out my soul (if I have one). 
I invited her to my room for a cup of tea, and 
an ounce of sympathy. Her gratitude was a 
satire on Christian charity in this town of 
London. I found she could type fairly well, 
though quite unintelligently, like a well- 
trained Chinaman ; but she had no machine 
of her own, and no money to buy one ; nor 
could she undertake work where dictation 
was necessary ; though, given a copy, she 
could reproduce each word with mechanical 

It flashed across me at once that all day 
long I was away at Romeo's, and did not 
need my machine. " Better come here," I 
said, " and use it. I will find you manu- 
scripts to transcribe ; we have plenty of such 
work to give away at the office." 

She fawned on me like a dog accustomed 
to ill-treatment, and for once used kindly. 
The ravenous way in which she ate bread 
and butter would have satisfied even the 
Charity Organisation Society as to the 
genuineness of her hunger. She was pain- 


fully grateful. Her gratitude distressed me. 
After that we became fast friends. It is 
true, she was terrified at the first smell of 

tobac But I forget ; that delinquency 

I have hitherto concealed from you. How- 
ever, she used my machine every day, and 
I helped her in the evenings. Pale, blue- 
eyed, colourless, with thin hair tied up in a 
knot the size of a nutmeg, she was built on 
the same lines as Michaela (whom I always 
remembered), but with this trifling diff'erence 
— that Michaela was rich, while my now little 
friend had not a cent to bless herself with. 
One was bound in Morocco, with gilt edges ; 
the other, a cheap edition, in paper covers. 

Her name was Elsie, her front name, 
that is to say ; for she had another, I sup- 
pose, a surname ; but I took no heed of it. 
Surnames lie on the surface of things, and do 
not interest me. They are of this age, utili- 
tarian ; while I, who dwell ever in Once- 
upon-a-time, care little save for the pe'-sons 
and dates of fairyland. We give each otl.^r 
surnames, indeed, only so long as we are 
mutual phantoms ; once pierce to the under- 
lying realities of human life, and we call 
one another by pet names, like so many 


In time Elsie became to me a sort of 
adopted daughter. She was older than I to 
be sure ; but her helplessness and incom- 
petence inspired in me at last that sense of 
motherliness which we women love — does it 
not come out in us even toward our dolls in 
childhood ? Her affection was canine. I 
found work for her from a type-writing office 
hard by — simple work, selected with a special 
eye to her limitations. She toiled at it with 
that patience which one observes in the 
squirrel who turns the unceasing treadmill of 
his cage ; for minds of a certain calibre prefer 
routine, which would kill a thinking animal, 
to any task that calls for the slightest exercise 
of intelligence. As long as she was permitted 
to go on copying like a machine, Elsie was 
perfectly happy : a doubt or a query seemed 
(as she said) to comb her brain ; she lost 
heart before an alternative. 

I spent little time in my room myself, save 
for the strict necessaries of sleep and break- 
fast ; at other times I was driven out of it by 
a work of art on the walls — the Portrait of 
a Locket. It represented, or rather repre- 
sents (for doubtless it still exists), a gold 
locket and chain, reposing on an ample 
black silk bosom, with a woman's face and 


hands in the background. The face and 
hands, so far as can be seen, are fat and 
placid ; the hands crossed ; the face feature- 
less. Flesh-tints and modelling, however, 
cast much rude work upon the imagination. 
I had not courage enough to suggest the 
removal oi this gem to my landlady, who 
valued it highly as "a real oil-painting"; but 
it, and two vases, drove me out, I will not 
say to the public-house, but to the public 
buildings. I retired at odd moments to my 
drawing-room in the National Gallery, or 
to the hospitable electric light of the British 
Museum. Elsie, on the other hand, was not 
repelled by the locket or the lady. I had now 
no use for my machine, and she worked on 
it constantly. She and the Commissioner 
struck up a violent friendship. It did her 
good to have some living creature at hand in 
the room to whom she could talk in the inter- 
vals of click-clicking. To enlarge her circle 
I added in time a starling and a canary, whom 
we christened Beef and Mustard. The canary 
was Mustard because of his colour, and the 
starling Beef because there was so much 
more of him. 

One of the points which had barred Elsie's 
way in the matter of obtaining employment, 


she felt profoundly convinced, was her reli- 
gious opinions, which were soundly narrow. 
This happily enabled her, like Rothenburg, 
to gild her penury with the halo of the 

For myself, I suspect that incompetence 
had more to do with her failure than religious 
prejudice ; but that is a private conviction. 
She was a Positivist, or a Plymouth Sister, or a 
member of some other uncanny small sect ; I 
will plead guilty to discriminating ill these 
minor brands of creed ; I am hazy as to the 
true distinction between General and Particular 
Baptists (though, perhaps, a Particuhir Baptist 
uses soap) ; and I always mix up Sweden- 
borgians with Irvirgites. It was a surprise 
to Elsie to find that her form of faith seemed 
to me a question of small import either way. 
I hold that most men are human, and, still 
more, most women. My tolerance astonished 
her. When 1 suggested that perhaps at that 
very minute Swedenborg and Irving, John 
Knox and Thomas a Kempis, might perchance 
be gazing down upon us with kindly eyes 
and an amused smile from some sequestered 
garden bench in one of the spacious pleasure- 
grounds of the Celestial City, where they 
sat in rapt converse with the soul of John 


Glas, who first prospected her own strictly 
provincial path to Paradise, she turned her 
face to me with mingled delight and terror. 
My view seemed to her sweet but highly 
heterodox. She refused to her God a breadth 
of sympathy which she instinctively admired 
in a fellow-creature. 

One evening I came home and found Elsie 
at work on a piece of transcription which was 
evidently too deep for her. It was poetr}', 
she said, in an awed whisper : she had been 
given it at the office under a promise of 
secrecy. But the arrangement of the long 
and short lines of complicated stanzas, which 
needed some care in the adjustment of 
margins, was evidently beyond her. She 
looked tired and worried, and was mildly 
tearful. " Besides, dear," she said, smooth- 
ing my hair, " there are such difficult words 
in it — words nobody could spell ; not even 
you, I believe — such as myrrh with two r's 
and an h. I can't manage them anyhow." 

"Dictate to me," I said; "I can write for 
a bit. I've not done much to-day, and I'm 
hardly the least bit tired." 

She dictated several strophes. I was not 
surprised that she found the words hard. 
" Chrysoprase " " mandragora," " anaglyph," 


" Libitina " — these lay some miles outside 
poor little Elsie's vocabulary. 

At first I noticed only the rare richness of 
the language, the many-faceted words, set 
like jewels so as to show their full beauty; 
gradually, as she dictated, I began to be 
aware that the verses she read aloud to me 
in her infantile sing-song were not merely 
rhyme but also poetry. I do not pretend to 
the name of critic ; but I judged them to be 
written with limpid felicity. They had that 
artlessness which comes of the apt use of the 
perfect word without show of effort. Each 
noun and adjective fell so naturally into its 
place that one fancied the writer could have 
used no other— till one began to reflect that 
only studious care results in so absolute a 
sense of inevitability. And the poems were 
statuesque ; they had none of the tropical 
exuberance of our time ; they were Greek in 
their austerity. 

" Who is the author ? " I asked, curious to 
know the name of the poet with this Ionic 
note, new to our English Helicon. 

" They didn't tell me. They wished me 
not to know. He particularly desired that 
his verses should be kept secret." 

She went on dictating in her mechanical 


way. My hand struck the keys rapidly. At 
last she paused, near the close of a curious 
variant on the Spenserian stanza. " There's 
a word I can't make out," she murmured. 
"'True woman has the magic' some- 

tJiing " 

I took the manuscript from her hands. 

" True woman has the magic Midas gift ; 
Touched by her hand, dull clay transmutes to molten gold." 

But that was not what made me give a 
sudden cry of surprise, and then turn red as 
a peony. The verses were written in Romeo's 
hand. And Romeo was their author. 

In a second I was buried in them, like a 
bee in a crocus. I felt he was even more to 
me than before. I had believed him a pub- 
lisher; now I knew him a poet. No Barab- 
bas, but a Byron. 

How long I lay awake in my garret that 
night — thinking of whom but of Romeo ! 



Next morning at lunch time, as I crossed 
Long Acre, I caught a glimpse of Michaela, 
in the gondola of London, steering rapidly 
northward. A big summer hat, all wild roses 
and gossamer, half hid her face, like a wuld 
rose itself, pink and white and delicate. 

At sight of me she recognised me, and 
stopped her hansom short for a second to 
grasp my hand. I was pleased at her remem- 
brance. She had come from Waterloo, she 
said, and was hurrying now to catch a train 
at Euston. She looked radiantly happy ; I 
told her so. Her face flushed with pleasure ; 
she leaned forward and confided to me in a 
thrilling whisper that she was to be married 
in the autumn to the friend whom she had lost 
on the day I first met her. I wished her joy, 
and waved my hand. She vanished, smiling, 
towards Euston and the Unknown, a phantom 
once more among the flickering phantoms. 


Happy at her happiness, I tripped back to 
Flomeo's. She was an airy little thing of 
gauze and bergamot, like a breath of fairy- 

That afternoon Romeo's talk to me was 
more human than usual. It was always plain 
that he wan*-ed to talk, but a sense of the 
official nature of our relation restrained him 
often. To-day he spoke much of woman's 
place in literature. So many women, he said, 
wrote of life with a note of personality rare 
among men. They put more heart in it. 
Even squalor or crime grew less base when 
they handled it. 

Half unconsciously to myself, I murmured 
under my breath, 

"True woman has the magic Midas gift ; 
Touched by her hand, dull clay transmutes to molten gold." 

I murmured it quite low ; but he caught at 
the words with a sharp gasp. " Where did 
you see that ? " he asked quickly. 

I was forced to confess, "The lines oc- 
curred in some verses a little friend of mine 
— I told you of her some days since — had for 
copy yesterday from a type-writing office." 

I tried not to let him know more ; but, for 
a woman, I am a poor dissembler ; my colour 
or the trembling of my lips betrayed me. 


" Did you see the manuscript ? " he in- 

"Yes ; I helped her to transcribe it." 

" They promised secrecy ! " he cried. 

" And you shall have it," I answered. 

He paused a moment. " But yoti were 
the last person I would have v/ished to see 
them," he went on, his face twitching. 

I knew why. In some of them an allusion, a 
description — here, a blue-veined eyelid; there, 
a gloss like a swallow's wing on a woman's 
smooth hair — had seemed to me familiar. 

He paced up and down the tawny carpet 
for awhile. Then he broke out once more. 
" I have written verse since I was a boy," he 
said. " It has ever been my ambition to be 
found worthy of the crown of poet. But if I 
printed these lyrics under my own name, what 
use ? I could but give a handle for Sidney 
Trevelyan to ask in the Saturday Review ' Is 
Barabbas also among the prophets?' Nobody 
will take a publisher's rhymes seriously. So 
I decided to issue mine under an assumed 
name, and with another firm, that critics 
might at least be rude to them on their merits. 
For that purpose I had them type-written — 
and not by you. I am sorry you have seen 


"And I am glad," I answered. "You may 
not care for my opinion ; but these verses are 
masterpieces of handicraft. You have the rare 
gift of reticence. Besides, you understand the 
fitness of words ; you appreciate their melt- 
ing shades of tcne ; you feel the emotional 
atmosphere with which each is girdled." 

" Thank you, " he said, checking himself. 
" Andjj'c?» are of the few whose praise I 
value. You speak well of my work for the 
qualities I strive to have, not for those I know 
I have not." 

From that day forth he was much more at 
home with me. You see, we shared a Secret 
in common. 

When his >'olume came out, several months 
later, it made no stir in the world ; but it 
gained the approbation of five or six out of the 
twenty-three men and women in England who 
love poetry It will yet be known, I think ; 
for though the public often fiock together like 
sheep after some noisy impostor, true poetry 
is always forced upon them from above by 
the chosen few who can discover and impose 
it. The few are frequently obscure, and bear 
no hall-mark ; but they know one another by 
the two gifts which make a critic — insight 
and foresight. 


My knowledge of this book drew me nearer 
to Romeo. Having once accepted the fact 
that I knew of his work, he consulted me time 
and again as to type and paper — sometimes 
also as to the choice of an epithet or a point 
of cadence, when two equally-balanced alter- 
natives divided his preference. Should it be 
lurid or livid ? was ruddy or russet the better? 
This led us into talks not altogether official. 
Though always reticent, he began to treat me 
less as a type-writer and more as a woman. 

This quality of reticence, which I observed 
in Romeo's self no less than in his work, 
impressed me profoundly. I admired his 
quiet strength, his calm, his urbanity. I am 
not urbane myself, and I fear I must grant 
that I am rather vehement than strong; there- 
lore I respected all the more these traits in 
Romeo. One honours one's complement 
above one's counterpart. He never spoke 
strongly; he reserved strength for action. A 
week or two after Sidney Trevelyan's visit I 
asked him one day whether the cheap edition 
of "Mahatmas" was going forward. He smiled 
his restrained smile, and answered, " No, 
certainly not ; I never intended it." 

" But Mr. Trevelyan was so urgent, so 
instant ; he had quite made up his mind." 



" Yes ; that is unimportant. The moment 
had not arrived, and 1 told him so, cahnly. 
He is a rock when opposed ; but cahnness, 
like faith, can move mountains. I did not 
oppose him at the time ; opposition just then 
could only have irritated him. I saw the 
state of his soul ; he came to me, seething 
internally with suppressed wrath at the 
critics. I let him blow off steam ; in such 
circumstances I judge it unwise to sit upon 
the safety-valve. lie opened his heart and 
had it out, flinging many hard jibes at me 
and at the public. That relieved the tension. 
I let three days pass ; then I wrote an ulti- 
matum, stating quietly what I thought. He 
gave in at once. The cheap edition shall not 
appear till the autumn." 

Such masculine absence of fussiness pleased 

Once or twice when I discussed with him 
he asked me seriously why I had never 
written. I laughed off his assault. He re- 
turned to the charge ; so much racy material 
going to waste in my own adventures. I 
told him of my work among the East-End 
slop-makers ! " Ready-made stories," was his 
verdict. I doubted my own faculty. He was 
sure I possessed it. 


Tliis encouraged me to narrate my ex- 
perience at Pinfold. " Anarchists ! — and 
they blamed me because I could not fall in 
love to order ! " 

"You are an intrepid young lady," Romeo 
said. " Do you know, I doubt if you quite 
realise always in what galleys you have 

"I think I do," I answered : "but I have 
confidence in myself and my guardian angel." 

He urged me to try my hand at a short 
story of the modern girl who earns her own 
living in London — "for example, this little 
friend who uses your type-writer," he added 
with a clever side-thrust ; I was grateful to 
him for thus diverting the theme from my 
own personality : " there is no more pathetic 
figure in our world to-day than the common 
figure of the poor young lady, crushed be- 
tween classes above and below, and left with 
scarce a chance of earning her bread with 

" I fear," I said, " I have no knack of 
pathos ; even at difficult turns I am apt to 
see rather the humorous than the tragic side 
of things." 

" So I note. But why not try ; your own 
late adventures, for instance ? " 

M 2 


I felt that that romance had not yet 
reached its dcnou})iciit ; but I refrained from 
telling him so. I promised to make an 
attempt, however, with one of my earlier 
East-Knd reminiscences, or else with a little 
vignette of the infant anarchists, unsullied 
by soap, pulling Commissioner Lin's tail, 
while their sisters turned the House that 
Jack built into Czech and Yiddish. 

For a week or two I worked hard in my 
stray moments at this my poor little literary 
first-born. I put its phrases in curl-papers 
till I was sick of twisting them. When it 
was ripe for the birth, I confess I thought 
meanly of it. Mine own, but a poor thing, to 
reverse Touchstone's saying : I brought it 
to Romeo, trembling. He read it and was 
enthusiastic. For the first time now I felt 
sure he really cared for me ; what else could 
so have blinded his critical faculty ? For he 
was a judicious reader. 

He praised it as if it were the work ol 
a consummate artist. His encouragement was 
unstinted. I will not repeat what he said as 
to my style ; you, who are reading my second 
effort in that line, would be painfully aware 
how much personal partiality must have 
warped his judgment. 


" It is SO breezy," he said. " You write 
open-air English." 

" I learnt it on the moors, among the 
whins," I answered. 

" This eclogue must go into the magazine ! " 
he cried ; for, like most other great houses, 
the firm published one of its own. 

I drew a line at that. " Oh, no," I cried, 
flushing. "You are too kind, too generous. 
I will not allow it to be printed where — 
where personal acquaintance and your recom- 
mendation may disturb the editor's calmer 
opinion. I must send it to someone else. 
Then it will be weighed for what it is worth, 
and if it is accepted, I shall know on what 

" But I shall be sorry to lose it," he ex- 
claimed ; " for the magazine's own sake. 
When one discovers a new writer, one 
wishes to keep the full credit of the dis- 

I looked down to hide my burning cheeks. 
" No, no," I said firmly. " You are too 
flattering — too good. Your" — ^I paused to 
think how I could best word it; "your 
knowledge of me predisposes you too much 
in my favour." 

He looked at me and hesitated. " Not my 


knowledge alone," he corrected; "my . . . 
friendship, my " 

He did not say " affection " ; but we raised 
our eyes in unison ; and in a flash of those 
eyes each knew that he meant it. 

There was a long pause. I was aware ot 
my heart, which called attention to its ex- 
istence by a violent throbbing. I went back 
to my machine and began typing mechani- 
cally. Then he added all at once, " But quite 
apart from that, I ivmit this story ; I want 
the honour of publishing it, because I see it 
is a good one." 

I went on clicking. " You cannot sepa- 
rate these things," I said, without look- 
ing up. " A person is a totality. We 
do not knoW; ourselves, how much of any 
feeling is due to this cause, and how much to 
that. Nothing ever goes wholly free from 
either fear or favour. But I have made up 
my mind. I shall send it to The Pimlico.'" 

I sent it in the end ; and, to my great joy, 
not unmixed with surprise, the editor ac- 
cepted it, in a chastening letter. He did not 
say, like Romeo, " a gem cf English " ; he 
called it on the contrary, "high-spirited if 
flippant"; but he printed it none the less, and 
forwarded me a cheque for twelve guineas. 


Twelve guineas ! Such wealth seemed to 
me almost incredible. I felt like an Argo- 

Still, Romeo was vexed. "We ought to 
have had it," he said; "for, after all, you 
were my discovery." 




It was about this time, if I recollect aright 
(for / am the girl who does not keep a diary), 
that Romeo invited me to dinner. 

I have two reasons for my avoidance of the 
besetting sin of diary-writing. The first is 
that I am usually dog-tired with work when 
evening comes, so that to ask me to fill in a 
journal with the day's events is like asking a 
galley-slave to take a scull in a pleasure-boat 
after his toil is over. The second is that 
if you keep no diary it cannot be used in 
evidence against you. As yet, 'tis true, by 
rigid self-exam.ination, I have steered clear 
of capital crimes ; but I remember always 
Ophelia's wise saw, " We know what we 
are; we know not what we may be." 

Romeo invited me with caution, and teiita- 
tively. He began by remarking, as if for no 
special reason, that he was giving a dinner 
next week at the Savoy — a dinner devised for 


a particular purpose. Then he added after a 
while that his mother would be there. This to 
inspire confidence, dear fellow ! as though I 
ever doubted him. Next he inquired in a rather 
timid voice whether, if his mother picked me 
up by the way in her brougham, 1 would mind 
joining the party. " My mother has not called 
upon you yet," he murmured in an apologetic 
parenthesis, looking up at me askance from 
under his ridged eyebrows with an interro- 
gative lid ; " but — perhaps you would waive 
that." From the way he said it I could read 
much. I felt instinctively she was a black-satin 
old lady of the straightest sect ; Romeo had 
implored her to call ; she had refused point- 
blank to go and see a type-writer girl who 
lived in one room in an impossible street in 
Soho. Romeo had begged and prayed ; the 
mother had presented the true stiff neck of the 
black-satin order. Then Romeo had planned 
this dinner as a means of introducing me, con- 
fident (dear boy) that if once we were brought 
together, his mother — well, would think as 
much of me as he did. Poor purblind 
Romeo ! I pitied him for that. How little 
had he fathomed black-satin psychology ! 

I hesitated a moment. Not on Romeo's 
account, nor even on the mother's — I do not 


fear the smoothest black satin ; but because of 
the mere material difficulty of a gown, which 
just at first rose insuperable. Otherwise I 
thought so much of Romeo now — he had 
begun to play so large a part in the unwritten 
dramas of my future with which I lulled my- 
self to sleep — that I felt at all costs I must be 
present at this dinner and face the mother. 
A mother is almost inevitable ; the sooner one 
gets over her, like measles, the better. 

I had one evening dress, or the ghost of 
one, which had descended to me from the 
days when I was a lady. Its sleeves carried 
date ; but the bodice and skirt were of that 
fanciful kind which is above the fashion, and 
therefore never either in it or out of it. The 
colour was sweet — white, shot with faint 
streaks of the daintiest pink, like the first 
downy stage of budding willow catkins. On 
the other hand, I was still in mourning for 
my dear father. Had I loved him less I 
should have shrunk from wearing that gown ; 
but my sorrow was not of the sort that 
measures itself by yards of crape, which is 
why I have troubled you with it so little in 
this narrative. I reflected a moment ; then I 
answered, "Yes ; it will give me great plea- 


That it gave Romeo great pleasure was 
visibly written on iiis face. He liad expected 
a no, and was delighted at my acceptance. I 
knew by his eyes he had anticipated and even 
exaggerated the dress difficulty. I did not 
misinterpret his pleased look, however. I 
never thought Romeo was in love with me ; I 
knew he was interested in me, both per- 
sonally and as a possible authoress ; and I 
saw he wished much to bring me officially 
into his mother's circle. More than that, I 
did not believe, or rather, if I am to tell you 
the precise truth, 1 thought Romeo was fall- 
ing in love with me by slow steps, but mis- 
taking his love for mere interest and friendli- 

For a week I was a woman, not merely a 
type-writer. I worked hard at that gown, 
first planning, then executing my alterations. 
Dear little Elsie helped me with it like a 
Trojan. Nay, in cutting out and fitting she 
displayed or developed unexpected talent. 
When dress was in question she was no 
longer stupid ; the woman in her grew ; she 
showed taste and skill ; indeed, I have noted 
in life, throughout, that taste has no necessary 
connection, direct or inverse, with intelligence 
or stupidity ; it is a native endowment which 


may break out anywhere. She was glad it was 
a dinner, not a dance ; her religious opinions 
would not have sanctioned her assisting me 
with a ball-dress. But all sects alike ap- 
prove the habit of feeding. I must admit that 
when it came to the details of my gown she 
showed herself at once moA frankly worldly. 
Elsie had little chance of making dresses for 
herself, poor child; but she aided me with her 
needle and her advice till I was truly grateful. 
The way she reorganised the sleeves to a 
Parisian model made one believe in alchemy. 
We spent a few shillings on new tulle and 
lining. Every evening we had an orgy of 
dressmaking : whole packets of pins, snippets 
of silk on the floor. Before the end of the 
week we had transformed that old gown of 
mine into a joy for ever. It was better than 
new ; as it fell in soft folds the blush showed 
on the ridge and cream-white in the hollows. 
When I tried it on, Elsie bent over me enrap- 
tured. "You dear thing!" she cried, hugging 
me (to the danger of the tulle), " I always 
knew you were pretty, but I never knew till 
now you were splendidly beautiful." 

And I will honestly admit that the frock 
became me. 

The day arrived at last. Elsie came round 


to help me dress my hair Wc made more of 
this dinner than I should have made of being 
presented in the days of my grandeur — such 
as it was. Dear little Elsie had brought me 
some flowers from a friend's garden at Ealing, 
choice sweet-scented flowers, with a back- 
ground of maidenhair. If I had believed her, 
I would have thought no fairy princess ever 
looked more radiant than 1 looked that even- 
ing; and, indeed, our joint efforts on the gown 
repaid us with interest. When the last touch 
had been given Elsie kissed me on both 
cheeks. " He will propose to-nigiit," she 
whispered. " I know he will : he can't help 
himself, dear. You are so captivating!" I 
blushed, for I had never mentioned his name 
to Elsie; but then, I forgot that Elsie too was 
a woman. 

At ten minutes to eight the brougham 
arrived at the door. Never before had our 
street beheld so distinguished an equipaj^e. 
This was unfortunate, for the children next 
door came to gaze at me with dirty faces and 
unaffected interest, exclaiming, "Oh, my, don't 
she look a reel lidy ?" as I made a rush for the 

Romeo's mother was precisely what 1 
had painted her — a Lady Montague of the 


severest, with coffee-coloured point-lace, a 
Cornelia one shade too stout for the mother 
of the Gracchi. Her smooth white hair 
looked not gentle, but forbidding; she listened 
to what I said with well-bred reserve: too stiff 
to acquiesce, too polite to contradict, too stony 
to show interest. 

At the hotel, we were ushered into a hand- 
some private room, most gracefully decorated 
with crimson arabesques on white panelling. 
The party consisted of Romeo and his mother 
with some six or eight more (including a pre- 
bendary), among whom the chief guests 
seemed to be a certain amiable-faced Lady 
Donisthorpe and her husband, Sir Everard. 
I name them in this order, for though the 
husband was a man of some force and character 
— early English, comfortable — Lady Donis- 
thorpe, like Paul, was the chief speaker. She 
seemed what is called "a womanly woman " 
— one of those tranquil women with soft, 
rounded outlines, who look like wax, but 
within are flint. She reminded me most of 
all of a pouter pigeon. 

She apologised much because dear Meta 
could not come. It was such a disappoint- 
ment. The poor child had been taken ill — 
nothing serious she was glad to say — but im- 


possible to go out. She hoped Romeo would 
excuse her. Romeo expressed most courteous 
regret at dear Meta's enforced absence; though 
1, who knew him now so well, and was used 
at the office to note the varying degrees of 
cordiality or boredom in his reception of 
authors, inferred at once from his eyes that 
he was somewhat relieved at heart by dear 
Meta's non-appearance. It was clear to me, 
too, that Lady Donisthorpe flung Meta in- 
artistically at his head ; twenty times during 
the evening she referred with a rigid smile 
and a pufT of the pouter bust to one of dear 
Meta's sweet ways or to something delightful 
that dear Meta had said or done for some- 
body. The impression she left upon me was 
that Meta must be an insipid paragon, with 
all the virtues and their concomitant insup- 
portability. Romeo's absent smile at each 
such advertisement of Meta's charming quali- 
ties— " so gentle," "so unaffected" — made 
me feel convinced that he was of the same 

To put it plainly, Lady Donisthorpe showed 
want of tact in her crude mode of placarding 

She had another trick Oi '-nanner which 
disturbed my peace of mind ; like most of the 


iK-wly-LMirichecl, she attached an excessive 
importance to the after all somewhat negative 
quality of ladylikencss. The highest praise 
she could accord to each aciiromatically 
charming girl of her accpiaintance was that 
of being " a perfect lady." She flung the 
phrase in my teeth. Apart from the fact that 
it seems to imply a somewhat narrow standard, 
I always suspect women who insist upon 
this point of being themselves otton-backed 

I knew her type : she belonged to an 
aristocracy recruited by the names of all the 
best-known brands of beer, soap, and whis- 

I protest, however, that just at first I began 
by treating Romeo's mother and Lady Donis- 
thorpe with the utmost cordiality. For had 1 
not good reasons for desiring to conciliate 
them ? But their treatment chilled me. I 
could see they had come prepared to dislike 
me for a conceited upstart. In return, I soon 
found I disliked their texture. Cornelia was 
cold ; I felt she regarded my humour as ill- 
timed. Lady Donisthorpe had the vulgar 
fear of vulgarity. I do not share it ; nature 
is vulgar enough ; we can only be " perfect 
ladies " on the Donisthorpe pattern by shut- 


ting our eyes, shutting our cars, and shutting 
our noses to most things around us. Now, I 
will not shut my eyes nor my mouth either. 
If facts obtrude themselves, I recognise them. 
I fear Lady Donisthorpe thought it painfully 
unladylike of me to have lived in the East- 
Knd, and positively rude to tell stories of 
slop-makers. She raised her tortoise-shell 
glasses at the very word as a mute protest. 

In fine, both were conscious of a social 
barrier. So was I — with a difference. Lady 
Donisthorpe moved in what calls itself "good 
society," but genteel would have been scarce 
too hard a word to describe her. 

Romeo's mother swept in to dinner on Sir 
Everard's arm, a three-decker under full sail. 
Romeo offered me his ; I gathered it was 
because Meta hnJ not arrived as expected. 
Always handsome, he looked handsomer in 
evening dress. A waxy white flower lay on 
each plate: Romeo pinned mine on my bodice. 
Lady Donisthorpe's placid eyes did not let 
the action pass unnoticed. 

The dinner —by which you shall understand 
the food — was the best I ever tasted. The 
champagne, in the judgment of one who is no 
judge, was a thought too dry, but delicious. 
The mousse dc jamboii was an epicure's dream. 



I really enjoyed myself. Besides, I was 
conscious that Romeo liked my dress and felt 
some mild surprise to see how well I looked 
in it. He had hitherto known me in my black 
office gown alone. I forgot my poverty and 
was once more a lady. 

It suits me better. I blossom under it. I 
did not even object to Sir Everard for being a 
millionaire; it was hardly his fault; million- 
aires, after all, are an outcome of the age : 
one can but regret that they absorb its income. 
Lady Donisthorpe's talk leeked of wealth till 
I felt it would be dviiightful to get home at 
night and spc somethmg cheap again. My 
seat VvdS between Romeo and a clever young 
man, with keen eyes and pince-nez, a rising 
physiologist. It relieved me to learn he was 
not an electrical engineer ; all the young men 
I used to meet in my prae-type-writing days 
had been given over to riotous electrical 
engineering. My neighbour's hobby was a 
cheerful one — the identity of genius and mad- 
ness. He took Paradise Lost and the Vatican 
frescoes for premonitory symptoms of acute 
mania ; he held the steam-engine to be a by- 
product of the insane temperament. Yet he 
urged his thesis so well that, on his own 
showing, I foresaw he must be qualifying 


for residence in an asylum. Wi-.en I told him 
so, he cavilled at my graceful compliment. 
To escape his retort, I turned to the other 
side and joined talk with Romeo and the pre- 
bendary. I do not know what a prebendary 
does ; his functions are more mysterious than 
even the archidiaconal ; but I have said I 
love mystery ; and I found the prebendary a 
capital talker. 

Romeo was charming, as always — more 
charming to me that night, I fancied, than 
ever. Perhaps it was because he had never 
seen me dressed like a human being before ; 
but also, I think, he was conscious of his 
mother's keen eyes and Lady Donisthorpe's 
steely glance ; smiling ever her set smile, she 
felt Meta's chances were slipping from her 
visibly. She was an ox-eyed Hera, a little 
run to seed, and now almost cow-faced, but 
cat-like in her watchfulness. To counteract 
the chilling effect of the two mothers — one a 
feather-bed, the other a poker — and to put 
me at my ease, Romeo behaved with the 
sweetest courtes3^ He talked to me ; he 
drew me out; if I ever can be brilliant (which 
'tis not for me to judge) I was brilliant that 
evening. I flashed to my own surprise ; 
Romeo's admiration, and the two elder 

N 2 


women's scarcely concealed hostility, put me 
on my mettle. 

I was not angry with his mother ; it was 
comprehensible, of course ; mothers are made 
like that. We erect each other into a class, 
and judge accordingly. Could any woman 
with an aquiline nose, and white hair neatly 
dressed by an immaculate maid, sit by unper- 
turbed while her only son paid open court to 
a type-writer girl ? I suppose I should have 
felt as she did, had I been put in her place. 
Being put in my own, I naturally did my best 
to let myself be seen to the greatest advan- 

So did Romeo. Having brought me there, 
he was determined I should be treated with 
proper respect. He insisted on talking to 
me; Lady Donisthorpe's cat-like graciousness, 
Cornelia's Roman austerity, only increased 
his anxiety to do me honour. The more his 
mother froze, the more Lady Donisthorpe, 
smiling her mechanical smile, and gently 
crushing, raised her tortoise-shell eye-glasses 
to decide whether I was human, the more did 
Romeo draw me out, and the more did I 
scintillate, till at last all the table was talking 
to me or listening to me. I laughed and 
raised laughter; I ^ sparkled and parried. 


When Lady Donisthorpe interposed sweetly, 
"And so you type-write at the office! How 
fatiguing it must be ! " on purpose to discon- 
cert me, I had my repartee ready : " At least 
it preserves me from being a perfect lady." 
I could see Romeo was pleased. I was a 
social success. I had justified his temerity. 

In the midst of our fencing, of a sudden, 
Cornelia drew out a gold pencil, wrote some- 
thing on a card, and handed it across to him. 
Romeo glanced at it and crumpled it up ; I 
could guess by his face her note had not 
pleased him. "As you will," he answered 
across the table ; then he turned to me once 
more. "That was delicious,' he said; "and 
what did you reply to him ?" 

I went on with my story. Still, I could 
gather that he was annoyed ; not only annoyed, 
indeed, but perplexed and troubled. Dinner 
solemnised, we withdrew to the comfortable 
divans of the balcony for Turkish coffee. All 
the party crowded round me, save the two 
mammas ; they did not sit apart, but, joining 
our group, they preserved an austere moral 
aloofness. The rest, however, redeemed their 
abstention. Even Sir Everard was untrue to 
poor Meta's chances. I was flushed by this 
time, and the men's eyes told me I was look- 


ing my prettiest. The two other girls of the 
party chimed in and encouraged me. So did 
the prebendary ; I talked easily and brightly. 
Sir Everard laughed again and again at my 
sallies. He was a portly old gentleman with 
a massive white waistcoat, very like a toad as 
he leaned back on the ottoman. His voice, 
too, was a purr; he was a toad, not a natter- 

But Romeo had stolen away to give some 
mysterious orders. I felt rather than saw 
that something had gone wrong somewhere 
with the machinery. 

We were to adjourn to a theatre. We 
drove round in state. Our stalls were near 
the centre; Lady Donisthorpe in claret- 
coloured velvet looked truly imposing. In 
one of the interludes I looked round at the 
pit. Directly behind me, in the front row, 
sat a foxey-headed man staring open-eyed 
towards me. It was the Grand Vizier, accom- 
panied by a lady (no doubt "with brains") 
and concealing but imperfectly the fact that 
he had been dining. 

For a moment — a rare moment — I felt 
really disconcerted. Under any other circum- 
stances it would only have amused me had 
the Vizier leaned forward and shouted, " Good 


evening, miss," in his own dialect. But to- 
night, with the eyes of those two mothers 
fixed stonily on my face, I confess I trembled 
lest he should rise in his seat, wave one hairy 
hand, and call out loudly across the inter- 
vening rows, " Allow me to introduce my fee- 
on-say to you. Miss Appleton!" 1 looked 
away hastily, not before he had caught my 
eye. I expected to see his goggle eyes fall 
out and drop upon the floor : he was so 
evidently surprised at my transfigured appear- 
ance. The last time he had parted from me 
it was beneath the golden symbol of St. 
Nicholas at the shop in the Strand ; to light 
upon me there that night, dressed like a lady, 
surrounded by a little court, made much of by 
the men, and flushed from the Savoy, might 
naturally astonish him. 

However, he behaved with better taste 
than I could have anticipated. He nudged 
his companion, and whispered in her ear, 
but kept his face averted. He was puzzled, 
I felt sure ; still he had sense enough to know 
that this greeting would be ill-timed, and 
good feeling enough to prevent him from 
forcing himself upon my notice. 

When the play was over Romeo led me to 
the door. I was still hot and uncertain. So 


far as he was concerned this evening was for 
me a great triumph ; every man and woman 
there, save only the two mothers, had paid 
me much attention, and, I will even venture 
to add, admired me. I had looked and talked 
my best, and I was satisfied with my per- 
formance. But the two elder women hung 
like black clouds lowering in the rear ; 1 
could feel them disapproving of me with 
various degrees of rancour. One feared for 
her son, the other for her daughter. 

Very natural, I knew ; but so too was my 
own attitude. No woman is born to be merely 
a type-writer. 

At the door Romeo led me by myself into 
a well-appointed brougham. Then I knew 
what had happened. Cornelia had written 
across to him that she declined to take me 
back in her carriage to Soho ; and Romeo, to 
save me the knowledge of that slight, had 
slipped away at the hotel, and ordered another 
carriage to await me at the theatre. He held 
my hand in his own for a brief space after he 
put me into it. 

"It was so good of you to come," he said. 
" I have so much enjoyed this talk with you." 

But the two mothers hardly gave me the 
tips of their fingers, and bowed distantly 


as I drove away alone, with chilly polite- 

When I got back to my room my feelings 
were mixed. The jealous Gods thus alloy 
our triumphs. Romeo had seen me at last as 
I really was. But I had innocently disturbed 
the peace of two families. 

I did what every other woman would have 
done in my place — sat down to a good cry 
and thought about Romeo. 



I HAVE large estates in Hertfordshire and the 
adjoining counties, free of land tax. Some 
noble marquis, I am assured, lays claim to 
the bare loam, the ploughed fields, the 
turnips; but who counts mere mud? The 
rest is mine, to do as I will with. He may 
keep his rents : 'tis for me to enjoy the green 
lawns, the huge buttressed beech-trees, the 
broad circles of shade where drowsy sheep 
lie huddled : I own the stripling streams that 
break agamst sharp stones in the sloping 
stickles, or expand on the shallows between 
into placid pools, skimmed over by water- 
beetles who dart and dance nimbly in inter- 
lacing whirligigs. The sky overhead is 
mine, mine the road under foot ; the scent 
of rain-wetted earth ; the broken song of the 
thrushes, the startled scream of the jay as he 
bursts through the rustling oak-leaves, the 
long sweep of the swift launching himself on 


the air from the battlements of the church- 
tower. All these I own, by virtue of my 
freehold in the saddle of my bicycle. 

Such a Sabine farm costs nought to 
manage ; it gives pure delight without counter- 
poise of trouble. I visited mine often, both 
on summer evenings and on Saturday after- 
noons or Sundays. Early in my time at 
Romeo's a whimsical fancy seized me (being 
ever irresponsible) to spend my Sabbath 
mornings in such churches within easy reach 
of London as were dedicated to my chosen 
ally, St. Nicholas. I ran them down with 
care in an Anglican Directory. If the day 
were doubtful, I strayed no farther afield 
than to St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, in the 
City, where in a dark bay of the aisle I 
prayed the prayer now nearest to my heart, 
which I leave you to guess. Often as my 
patron had failed me at a pinch, still oftener 
had he proved kind ; I was prepared to give 
him one more chance of distinguishing him- 
self. But if the day promised to be fair, 
I got under weigh betimes, and was spinning 
down the roads that lead northward out 
of town while the smocked milkman still 
stood balanced by frothing pails in the 
meadows. London lay, a vast blur, behind 


me. Cows on the common chewed the cud 
of penury. Their eye was pensive. Com- 
missioner Lin showed a nasty Jack-in-office 
disposition to disturb them. He was called 
to heel with difficulty. Then I would seek 
some country church, with low tower and 
wooden lych-gate, where St. Nicholas still 
bore sway, spite of iconoclast or Puritan, 
to pour out my heart's wish to I know not 
what Power that compels the universe. 

It was my wont to lean the bicycle mean- 
while against the churchyard yew or some 
convenient tombstone, leaving the Com- 
missioner in charge. He was well fitted for 
the task by his unregenerate monopolist views 
on private property, backed up by a fine row 
of persuasive white arguments. 

These weekly trips made me careless of 
holiday. I waited to take my summer outing 
till it should suit Romeo's convenience. I 
was so much his personal secretary that 
I must delay my vacation till he could take 
his; and it had long been arranged that he 
should put it off till late September — his 
partner having desired to go away in August. 

Romeo never alluded again to that evening 
at the Savoy ; but I knew it had brought him 
nought but disappointment. He had desired 


to include me within his mother's sphere, and 
Cornelia, gathering up her Roman robe, had 
declined. Yet from that time he was more 
deferential and more courteous, if possible, 
than even his wont. 

It was decided that his holiday should 
begin on the fifteenth of September. As the 
time drew near, Romeo grew visibly distressed 
and depressed. The spring failed in his 
step. I fancied he was suffering some in- 
ternal conflict. His manner was distraught; 
he sat at times as if he hardly heard what 
was passing. It was plain to see he was 
struggling within himself ; irreconcilable 
feelings drew him alternately in opposite 

On the fourteenth he came down to the 
office as usual, but sat gloomy and moody. 
He did not tell us whither he was bound : 
nay, more, he gave orders that no letters 
should follow him. He made some mys- 
tery of his destination. At three o'clock he 
went home, bidding me good-bye with more 
reserve than was his wont. He kept his 
glance averted. I could see he was fighting 
hard to avoid breaking down. This holiday 
must mean much to him. He could not look 
me in the face to bid me good-bye. The 


tremor of his eyelids was as of one who holds 
back tears with difficulty. I wished him 
a pleasant trip. He answered a hurried 
" Thank you," and rushed out to his carriage. 

If I had known where he was going I 
think I should have followed him. 

As the thought passed through my mind, 
Puck came in for some money out of hand. 
It was my duty to keep the petty cash for 
Romeo's personal office expenditure. " I 
want nine shillings, miss," the boy said ; 
"Baedeker's 'North Italy' and Hare's 

My heart gave a quick bound. I had sur- 
prised his objective. I am an erratic creature. 
In one second my mind was made up. I 
should follow him. 

I had still the twelve guineas I had re- 
ceived for my story. Thank heaven, I am 
improvident. The bourgeois vice of thrift is 
one from which my family has never suffered : 
the Puritan blood in our veins must have 
been too generously diluted. Besides, have 
I not learned from more modern political 
economy that saving is the source of all the 
evils of capitalism? — and do I not give thanks 
daily that I show not the faintest tendency to 
develop in that direction ? I have made up 


my mind never to be a capitalist ; and, up to 
date, I see every chance of my keeping my 
resolution. So I decided to spend my twelve 
guineas like a man, to please myself, leaving 
Providence or St. Nicholas to make good the 
deficiency. This is called faith, and is a car- 
dinal virtue. 

I gave Romeo two clear days* start, lest I 
should travel along with him and seem to be 
dogging him ; then I set out alone on my 
way to Venice. 

I am nothing, if not frank. Therefore I do 
not seek to deny the truth that I went to 
Italy on purpose to follow Romeo. 

" Unwomanly ! " you say. What a false 
convention ! 

Yes, I am always frank ; I think the day 
has almost come for frankness. Men novelists 
have depicted us as men wish us to be ; we 
have meekly and obediently accepted their 
portrait : to some extent, even, we have 
striven, against the grain, to model ourselves 
upon it. A man's ideal is the girl that 
shrinks ; the sweetly unconscious girl, who 
scarce knows she loves, till his strong arm 
glides round her, and he clasps her to his 
heart : then, with a sudden awakening, she 
awakens to the truth, and knows she has 


loved him long, loved him from the beginning. 
That, I say, is a man's woman. Her purity, 
her maidenly modesty, are quite unapproach- 
able by concrete feminine humanity. She is 
too delicate in mind ever to dream that she 
can love spontaneously, of her own mere 
motion. She loiters in the shade ; she waits 
to be wooed ; she is coy, undecided, shrink- 
ing, timid. 

There was a time, I suppose, when such 
women were common. I do not know — for 
have I not Shakespeare to the contrary ? 
But the type was once true, I dare say, 
and widely distributed. Still, has not time 
altered it ? In the world in which we live 
men are no longer ardent. We scarce affect 
to conceal the fact that they grow shy of 
marriage. As a necessary consequence, 
women have changed too ; the woman of this 
age often knows she loves, knows it poig- 
nantly, breathlessly, and must use those 
weapons which the world allows her if she 
would gain the affection of the man who has 
taken her maiden fancy. She cannot by open 
means pursue him, I admit ; but she has re- 
course to the immemorial feminine devices of 
ruse and stratagem. 

I have Shakespeare on my side, I say. 


because I remember Rosalind. A man drew 
her; yet I see in her pure woman. She 
loves ; she knows she loves ; she longs 
frankly for her lover. And that is the way 
with women as I have found them. 

Why did I follow Romeo ? Why did 
Roralind fly to the forest of Arden ? Only 
once — scarcely once — had Romeo seen me 
as I was : that evening of the dinner. At the 
office, what was I but the type-writer girl ? 
If I could meet him in Italy, he would know 
me as myself; we could talk more freely ; he 
might pluck up heart of grace to break the 
ice, and tell me he loved me. 

For I knew he was fond of me. I could 
not now doubt it. When he talked to me, it 
was with those unmistakable sidelong glances 
which a woman's heart can interpret. Often 
he broke off suddenly. But his mother was 
against me ; his mother wished him to marry 
Lady Donisthorpe's dear Meta. In London, 
I knew, I had little chance to prevail over 
that perfect lady. But in Venice — ah, what 
miracles may not happen in Venice! 

Mirage of the lagoons, yt u show men 
everything ! 

I had not set foot in the enchanted city 

si'ice my father took me when I was a girl of 



sixteen ; but I remembered it well ; I knew 
every refluent ditch of it. I could have found 
my way, on foot, through little aimless lanes 
that wander in and out, from the Piazza to 
the Ghetto. 

If Romeo met me there by accident — if we 
loitered together among those churches and 
galleries — if I told him of my saints, if I 
pointed him out my best-beloved pictures, 
surely the struggle within him would be 
settled in my favour. He would prefer my 
wayward Gypsy-American fantasy to dear 
Meta's insipid graces of the perfect lady. He 
would know which he preferred, in spite 
of his mother and Lady Donisthorpe's crude 

M3' one regret was, that I could not take 
Mr. Commissioner and Elsie with me 



When Linnaeus first saw gorse in blossom 
he fell on his knees and thanked God. Our 
modern Pharisees, who say grace before 
meat, never, I fancy, say grace before Venice. 

And yet there is only one Venice. 

From the moment you arrive in the dusk 
at the station, and stroll down slippery steps 
to your gondola, to glide with stealthy move- 
ment along the lesser canals, under mysterious 
bridges where mysterious bystanders lean 
over to watch you, unknown forms that creep 
from dark doors in unknown streets — do you 
not thank God, like Linnaeus, that he has 
brought you to Venice ? And does not this 
feeling of gratitude and wonder for that living 
romance deepen on you each day that you 
remain ? Do you not long to float for ever 
down those noiseless ways, to gaze up for 
ever at those water-stained palaces, to dream 
for all time among those innocent-faced St. 

O 2 


Ursulas ? Mint, anise, and cumin, indeed, 
when God has given us Venice ! The 
country or the south ! I pine in London. 

I had loitered on my way out, breaking my 
nights at Lucerne and Milan, that Romeo 
might have time to reach his journey's end 
with certainty before my arrival. And on my 
first morning of freedom by the motionless 
lagoons, I set out early to renew my acquain- 
tance with Venice. 

1 did not know where Romeo was stopping; 
nor did I seek to find out. I left everything 
to St. Nicholas. If chance should throw me 
in my Romeo's way, well and good ; if chance 
chose to be unkind, better so than that I 
should track him. Besides, in Venice, you 
cannot long fail to meet whoever else is there. 
All the world gravitates towards the centre 
of the Piazza. Sooner or later, you must 
needs cross the path of everyone in the 

I set out from my hotel on foot ; I love 
footing it in Venice ; I love the intricate 
tangle of narrow paved alleys, overhung by 
stone sills and rusty iron balconies, by which 
the walker threads his way through the mazes 
of the city. Millionaires in gondolas never 
know it. You must ramble to see Venice. 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 20$ 

Past little dim shops where red water-melons, 
sliced open, and strings of yellow carrots 
adorn the slabs ; past odours of salt fish and 
rank whiffs of garlic ; past cavernous recesses 
where, from murky Tintoretto-like gloom, the 
light of a little lamp just serves to throw up 
the tinsel crown of Our Lady. So suddenly 
at once, under the columns of a portico, into 
the open sky of the great square, the thronging 
turmoil of pigeons, the liberal flood of southern 
sunshine, the strong shadow of the campanile 
flung like a fallen obelisk on the floor of the 
Piazza, the mighty flagstaff's of the dead 
republic, and beyond them all, low and squat, 
a riot of white domes, the fantastic, many- 
pinnacled carven front of St. Mark's, glowing 
golden in the pellucid air of morning. 

I stood still and drew a deep breath. It 
was even as I thought. Grace before St. 
Mark's: " For what we are about to re- 
ceive " There is but one Venice. 

Holding my breath all the while, I drew 
near the great porches, with their round- 
arched tops, and gazed up at the mosaics. 
My soul steeped herself in beauty. I revelled 
in an orgy of jasper and porphyry. How 
gross to give thanks for beef and pudding, 
but none for Carpaccio, Bellini, Titian ! 


Slowly, out of the great dream of form and 
colour, bit by bit, as 1 gazed, distinct visions 
framed themselves — palm-leaves and lilies, 
robed shapes of angels, half-translucent ala- 
baster shafts or capitals, rich foliage of 
acanthus, wandering lines of tracery. In the 
midst of it all, one little relief held my eye at 
last — aflat relief of quaint Romanesque work- 
manship, beautiful with the winning beauty of 
infantile art; two birds that faced one another, 
and pecked at a bunch of grapes — when, all 
at once, 1 was aware of a start of surprise 
beside me. I turned round. My heart flut- 
tered for a second. It was Romeo. 

Venice faded. Though I had come out to 
him, I was taken aback at his presence. 

He gave a little gasp. " What, you here," 
he faltered out — " Miss Appleton — Juliet ? " 

"Yes," I answered assuming an air of uncon- 
cern ; " I thirsted for a breath of Italy again. 
It is nearly five years since I have been out 
of England." 

" But — this is fate ! " he blurted out. " I — 
I came here — to avoid you." 

I was in a mischievous mood. " I can go 
away again," I answered, looking deep into 
his eyes, and half curtseying. " It is not for 
me to interfere with my employer's holiday." 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 20/ 

He cast me an imploring look. "Juliet," 
he cried, " do not jest. Do not break my 
heart. This is no time for pleasantry. My 
child, my child, I have suffered." 

I saw it in his face. And yet I could not 
conceive what was his trouble. Could a 
mother count for so much ? I had never 
known mine. " You look ill," I said ; " so 
different from what you looked last week in 
London. Can I do anything for you ? I — I 
will really go away — at once — if you desire it." 

He restrained himself with an effort from 
seizing my hands, then and there, in the 
open Piazza. " Go azvay ? " he cried. " Go 
aivay ? No, that is not my trouble. I wish 
you not to go away. I wish you to stay with 
me always. Juliet, you must have guessed 
it ; you must have known it in London. Do 
not tell me you did not know. You saw that 
I loved you ! " 

" I thought so, at times," I answered in a 
very low voice. " But — why then did you 
wish to run away from me ? " 

He glanced about him with uneasy eyes. 
"Now this has come," he burst forth, "I 
must fight it out boldly. I must face it like a 
man. Juliet, where can we go? I must talk 
— alone — with you." 


" Let US take a gondola," I suggested, my 
heart throbbing high with joy ; for I felt I 
had triumphed now ; his mother, and dear 
Meta, and ox-eyed Lady Donisthorpe were 
wholly forgotten. 

"A gondola!" he echoed. "A gondola! 
Ah, how clever you are ! Of course! I never 
thought of that. There we can talk unin- 

We moved towards the Molo. I hailed a 
gondolier. " Put up the felze," I said, " so 
that we may not be overlooked." The man 
raised the little black box, and shut us in as 
in a sedan-chair. Romeo gazed admiration 
again. "And you talk Italian!" 

" Whither, signore ? " the gondolier 

" Where shall we go ? " Romeo inquired, 
turning to me. 

" Where you will," I answered; "it is all 
Venice." I did not add that with him by my 
side all the world would be Venice. 

He pointed towards the open, where we 
would be less observed. The gondolier 
nodded. Then the old fancy seized me. " To 
San Nicolo di Lido ! " I cried. It seemed like 
an omen. My patron saint had always 
brought me luck, and his church lay before 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 209 

me. In this crisis of my fate I would com- 
mend myself to his favour. 

I told Romeo why I chose that way. He 
smiled, a little sadly. " May it turn out as 
you wish," he exclaimed. " May St. Nicholas 
help us ! " 

I sat by his side on the soft black cushions, 
never uttering a word — placidly, quietly 
happy. I was in no hurry to speak ; the 
sense that I had Romeo alone to myself at 
last was joy enough for me. He took my 
hand in his. I let it lie there, unresisting. 

Words only spoil such first thrills of frui- 
tion. Touch is the mother-sense of love ; it 
needs no interpreter 

At last Romeo broke the charmed silence. 
I gave a little sigh as he broke it. "Oh, why 
so soon ? " I asked. But, like a man, he was 
eager to speak and explain himself. They are 
so precipitate ! 

" What am I to do, Juliet ? " he cried, bury- 
ing his face in his hands. " Your coming has 
thrown me back upon my first resolve ; it has 
driven me from my stronghold. When I tore 
myself away from you in London and no longer 
saw your eyes — those great magnetic uncom- 
plaining eyes of yours, those eyes that have 
bewitched me — I made up my mind that I 


must go through with it now, and try to I'or- 
get you. Not try, but pretend ; for it would 
be all pretence. Since the first day you 
came, daily and daily you have meant 
more and more to me. It was hard to 
break away from you, but I broke away 
and came here, so that I might be free from 
the spell ; for while I saw your eyes I could 
think of nothing else ; and now chance has 
thrown you in my path again, and — I cannot 
go through with it." 

"Not chance," I murmured low; "not 
chance — but St. Nicholas ! I have come with 
the money that my story brought me." 

He smiled at my little conceit, for I had 
told him in London of my half-fanciful cult of 
the poor maids' saint, and I had called my 
little tale "A Ward of St. Nicholas." 

" You are a brownie ! " he cried, gazing at 
me. " You wild thing, what brought you 
here ? " 

I laughed. "The Gotthard railway — and 
my love of adventure. I was sickening of 
England ; I had a migratory instinct, like birds 
when they gather on the telegraph wires in 
autumn, or restless Spanish sheep in spring, 
when they herd and leap, uneasy to be driven 
to their pastures in the mountains." 

" O, ROMEO, UOMEO ! " ail 

" What a wild thing you are ! " he repeated. 
"A brownie, a brownie! I wonder where 
you got it from ? " 

" From my gypsy ancestry, I suppose," I 

" Gypsy — but I thought you told me you 
were American ? " 

" On my father's side, yes ; but on my 
mother's Lowland Scot or Anglo-Indian. She 
was a Baillie of the Borders; and I suspect all 
borderers of sharing the blood of the Faas 
and the Petulengros. There was plenty of 

" No doubt," he mused. " The difference 
must have been slight between a moss- 
trooper and a gypsy. Each had much the 
same gentility. And, indeed, I remember the 
' Lord and Earl of Little Egypt * was sum- 
moned to Edinburgh as a peer of parliament." 

"At any rate," I said gaily, "whether 'tis 
true or false, it accounts, to my mind, for the 
Meg Merrilies vein in me. I was born a 
random vagrant in the world, a peripatetic 
philosopher. I love movement, I love free- 
dom — Bohemia. Why, I could tell your for- 
tune now if you cared to cross my hand with 

He gazed into my eyes. " I do not doubt 



it," he answered, " for it lies in your hands 

I thrilled and was still. The gondola 
glided over the glassy water. 

Soon he began again. " Gypsy, I want 
your help. You must make my fortune, not 
tell it. Show me how to act. Show me how 
to get free. What can 1 do in this crisis, 
Juliet — my Juliet ? " 

" How can I answer ? " I replied. " Tis for 
your own heart to say. I know you are fond 
of me. But — your mother has money, I sup- 
pose, and you prefer your mother." 

He withdrew the arm that lay half round 
me, and sat up facing me in surprise. " My 
mother ! " he cried. " My mother ! Why, 
Juliet, my child, what do you mean ? It is 
not my mother I think of — not her, but poor 
Meta ! " 

A pang darted through me. " Then you love 
her !" I exclaimed ; " that woman's daughter !" 

" Love her ? I do not say that. Yet, 
Juliet, consider ; put yourself in her place : 
I have been five years engaged to her ! " 

It burst upon me like a thunderbolt. Why 
had I never guessed it ? From the first day 
we met I had taken it for granted — unre- 
servedly, unthinkingly — that Romeo was 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 213 

heart-free and unfettered as I was. Even 
when I met Lady Donisthorpe I imagined too 
fast that she was flinging Meta openly at his 
head, but not that he was betrothed to her. 
My own heart must have blinded me. Now 
that I realised it all, 1 stood aghast at the 
way woman's instinct had failed me. How 
had I managed to misunderstand ? I saw in 
a flash that the conflict I had observed in 
Romeo before he left London was a conflict 
in his soul between love and honour. 

He seized my hand again. " It is that that 
made it so difficult," he whispered. "From 
the first day you came I began to love you. 
I fought against it hard, oh ! so hard ; I tried 
to talk little with you. Day after day I 
felt you sitting there, with your great gypsy 
eyes fixed ever steadily on your sheet of 
paper, and your heart going forth to me. I 
knew it went forth to me. I could feel it in 
the room. A subtle v/ave or thrill throbbed 
ever between us. I began to love you ; and 
still I fought hard. But the more we talked 
together the more did I feel you were the 
woman God made for me, and that Meta was 
not. At last I had a great struggle — ^a great 
struggle with my heart, and came out of it as 
I thought victorious. I fled from you here; 


where the Donisthorpes had come, to remain 
with Meta till the day I married her. It was 
what honour demanded ; I made love yield to 

I withdrew my hand slowly. " Give me 
time to think this out. It has burst upon 
me so suddenly. Oh, Romeo, till this mo- 
ment I never dreamt you were engaged to 

" Why Romeo ? " 

I smiled, though my heart was aching. I 
remembered that he did not know what I 
had always called him. Now I told him my 
fancy. " You have never been anything but 
Romeo to me," I murmured. 

He seized my hand again. "Juliet, I am 
your Romeo. I felt it from the first. We 
were meant for one another." 

" I know it ! " I cried. " I know it ! And 
this woman, who is not yours, has stolen you 
from me. You are mine by natural fitness ; 
and she took you, she took you ! " 

We leaned back on the seats and mused. 
The gondolier sang low to himself a soft 
Venetian love-song. 

After some minutes I began again. " Of 
course," I murmured, " it is Lady Donis- 
thorpe's daughter." 

*' O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 2 1 5 

" Of course. Five years ago I proposed to 

" Then zvliy did you not marry ? " I cried 
vehemently. "I hate these long engagements I 
They are vile for everybody ! " 

" Her stepfather v^ould not permit it till she 
came of age. She is a ward in Chancery, and 
he has influence with the court. Till her 
marriage her mother has some interest in 
the property, and Sir Everard, to preserve it, 
being fabulously rich already, made an excuse 
that a publisher was hardly the person to whom 
she might expect to aspire — though he per- 
mitted, or rather encouraged the engage- 

" And she is not yet of age ? " 

" In October." 

I gave an impatient wave of the h md. 
" But she was a child when you proposed to 
her ! " 

"A child? We were both children. We 
did not know our own minds. The Nemesis 
of it is that I know mine now, while she 
remains still at the childish standpoint." 

"^She loves you ?" 

" In her baby way — yes ; else it were all 
easy. But it would break her poor heart. 
Such a trusting little creature ! " 


" And you love her? " 

" Juliet, I thought I did once. But then, 
I had not learnt what love meant. She was 
only my Rosaline. I did not know the world 
of difference between a sweet little wax doll, 
with masses of light yellow tow for hair, and 
a woman, a thinking woman, with heart, soul, 
brain, courage — a woman who could face life 
full of intrepid self-reliance ; a woman with 
nerve, audacity, spirit; a woman with Homeric 
love of danger and adventure ; a woman made 
dearer by her sense of humour, the merry 
twinkle of her eye, her gay laugh at mis- 
fortune. I feel now that I need a comrade 
and a help, meet for me. Someone who 
could brace me up for the battle of life ; 
someone with great thoughts, fine fibre, noble 
impulses. I cannot go back to Meta. I 
could have done it last night. This morning, 
with you by my side, I feel it, I know it, im- 

He drew a long breath. I lay back on 
the cushion. " Romeo," I said, pleading my 
rival's cause, "you must go back to her." 

" Never ! " he answered, " never ! " 

I temporised. " This is not a question to 
decide all at one. Let us think it over slowly; 
let us lay it — before St. Nicholas ! " 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 2 1 7 

" If I lay it before St. Nicholas," he cried, 
" with you beside me, the oracle can give but 
one answer, I warrant. For I want 3'ou ; I 
need you ; my whole being cries out for 

We paused again. The water was cat's- 
eye green. The inexorable gondola glided 
on towards the Lido. 

We talked it over clause by clause. A 
light began to break upon me. The nearer 
I drew to San Nicolo the clearer grew the 
light. Ought a man to wreck two lives — his 
own and the girl's whom he means to marry 
(for my private fate I ignored) — in order 
to satisfy a false sense of honour? What, 
after all, was this honour ? A bugbear 
dressed up to frighten us from the truth. 
And what was the truth ? That Romeo was 
rushing madly into marriage with a girl for 
whom he was not fit, and who was not fit for 

" Romeo," I said at last, " could you make 
her happy ? " 

" That's ^.he rub," he answered. " It could 
hardly be for long. I could give her my hand, 
but not my heart ; for my heart, my heart, 
Juliet, is yours — yours only." 

" Then for her sake set her free," I cried. 



"The whole man — body, soul, and spirit — or 

"So I thinl<," he murmured. "The ques- 
tion is, when one has made a mistake, a mis- 
take that involves final ruin for two lives, 
which is the better, after all: to repair it before- 
hand, while repair is still possible, or bow to 
an antiquated ideal of honour, an ideal that 
comes to us from an age when women were 
toys, all alike, and run one's head into a noose 
from which there will be no escaping ? For 
her sake, as well as my own and yours, ought 
I not to tell her, frankly but gently, that this 
marriage she desires must mean misery for 
both of us ? " 

I tried to be impartial, though impartiality 
is hard when your own love and life lie 
trembling in the balance. " You ought," I 
answered, " if you feel sure you cannot truly 
love her." 

"Juliet, I can never love anyone but you. 
I know you for my counterpart. My love 
did not come suddenly ; it grew up by 
degrees from living so near you ; and 
it has grown, grown, grown, like a vast 
growth in my heart, till it has absorbed my 
nature. I have watched you every day, talked 
with you, listened Lo you. You know me and 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO I " 219 

you understand me. But Meta, dear little 
soul, she seems to me like a child. I cannot 
share life with her, I can only take care of 
her. You have originality, initiative ; Meta's 
soul has the shape that her mother has put 
upon it. Look how you loved and appreciated 
my verses ! Your criticism, your help, were 
of infinite use to me. In each word that you 
altered I felt you were right. Your sug- 
gestion of ' harmonious ' in that last line 
where I had written ' consistent ' made a full 
close for the sonnet, in sonorous organ music, 
and turned my prose into poetry. Whereas, 
when I gave Meta my book she read it 
through, and then kissed me. 'How clever of 
you, you dear boy, to be able to write verses!* 
Would such a help be meet for me ? " 

I clung to his hand ; it was hard to decide; 
but in a very low voice I faltered out, " I 
think not, Romeo." 

He talked of my poor attempts at writing 
stories ; he praised them, as he had always 
done. " You will be famous yet, my child ; 
and I shall be proud, whatever comes, that I 
was the first to encourage you." He appre- 
ciated me, I appreciated him ; surely, if mar- 
riages are made in heaven, we two were 
moulded for one another. Not alike, but com- 

p 2 


plementary.- And then, how rash to dream 
of marrying one woman when, even before 
marriage, you love another better ! Is tJiat 
the way to insure a happy home ? Is that the 
safe path to a life of wedded confidence ? 

We drew near to San Nicolo at last. "Let 
us go in," I said seriously, " and submit our- 
selves to the saint. His body lies within. 
We will kneel together before it." 

" But I thought you told me St. Nicholas 
lay throned in a gorgeous shrine at Bari?" he 

" Why, of course," I answered. " What is 
the use of being a saint if you cannot have 
two bodies, and be in two places at once ? 
And what is the use of faith if it does not 
enable you to believe the impossible?" 

"I do believe it," he answered; "since I 
came to Venice to be out of your enchant- 
ment, and found you here, more deliciously 
enchanting than ever. The fascination of 
your eyes " 

I cut him short with a gesture ; but I was 
glad he praised them. 

We landed by the steps, and entered the 
sailors' church. I led Romeo up to a scal- 
loped niche by the tribune, where I had often 
prayed as a girl with my father. Wc knelt 

" O, ROMEO, ROMEO ! " 221 

down, side by side, before the jewelled shrine 
that contains the blessed dust of St. Nicholas 
of Myra, I hope not irreverently. I may be 
what the Warden at our Guild was fond of 
calling me, " an amiable heathen," but at least 
I am sincere. Tears stole down my cheek. 
I asked with an earnest heart for light, for 
guidance. We know not, indeed, whose 
saintly bones repose at peace within that 
sculptured marble altar-tomb ; nor does it 
matter to me much whether they be or be not 
those of the benign bishop of Myra. I ac- 
cepted them as the symbol of that Power, 
above ourselves, to which our hearts go forth 
at moments of doubt, of fear, of anguish ; and 
to such a Power I prayed unfeignedly, that at 
this turning-point of my life I might be led 
aright, might form the just judgment, un- 
biassed by self-profit, holding an equal scale 
between myself and my rival. 

As I knelt there a single flashing ray of 
light beat down through a little window above 
upon San Nicolo's altar-slab. It gilt the 
niche for a moment ; it fell in gold on the tes- 
sellated floor; then it passed away as a cloud 
covered the sun. Rightly or wrongly, I ac- 
cepted the omen. Tears stood in my eyes 
still, but they were tears of gladness. "St. 



Nicholas has answered," I whispered. "Wliat 
did he say to you, Romeo ? " 

Romeo looked me in the face solemnly as 
he made reply. " He said, ' Better tell her 
early than tell her too late. Save her while 
she can be saved, and let three hearts be 

Venice hung like a haze. The row back to 
the Molo was a lane in Paradise. 



At the Molo we parted. The Donisthorpes, 
Romeo said, must long have been expecting 
him, fidgeting that he did not arrive ; he 
knew not what lame excuse he could rake up 
to satisfy them. It was agreed on both sides, 
however, and impressed with last words, that 
he must not break poor Meta's heart prema- 
turely, by too abrupt an avowal of his new 
decision. We were to break it by degrees — 
to give her three days of purgatory. Mean- 
while, Romeo promised he would not see 
me again, at least to speak together ; though 
he asked leave, wistfully, to pass under my 
window once each morning and smile at me, 
just so as to make sure oi my presence. I 
wanted this interval ; I wished to see whether 
he would remain firm to his purpose when he 
was removed for a day or two from that 
" magnetism " of my eyes on which he dwelt 
so strongly. 

224 '"l-: TVPE-WKITKK GIKL. 

I spent the three days of grace in wander- 
ing about Venice. For the most part, I 
avoided the great square, St. Mark's, the 
Academy — all the familiar tourist haunts — 
because I did not desire collision with the 
Donisthorpes. Most of my time I devoted 
to the out-of-the-way streets and the out- 
of-the-way sights, which are so infinitely 
amusing; the funny little alleys where 
the true Venetians stroll ; the funny little 
cainpi, where old men and children lie 
stretched in the shade on the north side 
of some small church, as fallow-deer huddle 
on the north side of the domed oaks in a park 
at noontide. Every turn revealed some pass- 
ing picture. As 1 had said to Romeo, it was 
all Venice. Not a remote sunless lane, with 
walls of peehng plaster, tufted with pellitory, 
that is not dear to my heart ; not a sluggish 
side canal, into whose stagnant green water 
branches of acacia and trailing sprays of Vir- 
ginia creeper hang from beyond the moulder- 
ing garden grill, but I love and cherish it. 
Little Romanesque windows, high up on some 
red-washed steeple, with twin round arches, 
tall and narrow, held apart in the midst by 
one twisted column ; great patches of sunlight 
falling through quater-foils in dazzling relief 


on the deep recessed gloom of the loggia; 
wee bridges that rise, arched like a cat's back, 
over streams strewn with cabbage-leaves, 
where market boats from Meh^tre, laden high 
with pumpkins, crawl slowly down the channel 
— do I not know them all ? Are they not 
etched on my brain by some fadeless process 
of mental photography ? 

In spite of my haunting these remoter by- 
ways, however, 1 did once by accident catch 
sight of the Donisthorpes. They were seated 
with the prebendary at a cafe in the great 
Piazza, as 1 crossed it one afternoon on my 
way home from San Zaccaria, where I had 
been feasting on saints in the placid enjoy- 
ment of every form of martyrdom. Sir 
Everard, leaning back on his chair and sip- 
ping black coffee, with a small brown cap 
pushed well off his forehead, a brown tourist 
suit, and a capacious yellow waistcoat, amply 
displayed in front of him, looked more ab- 
surdly like a fat toad than ever. Lady 
Donisthorpe, smiling sweetly upon Venice 
in general, with her ladylike softness, her 
mechanical amiability, her pouter-pigeon 
suavity, yet showed marks about the eyes of 
some inner dissatisfaction. They did not ob- 
serve me ; 1 stole close behind them, anxious 


to see the immaculate colourless Meta ; 1 
wished to know for myself what manner of 
girl she might be ; but she was not with 
them — gone off, no doubt, for a stroll round 
the square with Romeo. That thought drove 
me quickly home ; like a frightened rabbit, I 
rushed under the clock-tower and along the 
thronged Merceria to my hotel on a side canal ; 
I could not have endured to see them together 
like lovers. 

Had I no qualms meanwhile ? Aye, 
marry, had I ? Do you think I slept much 
through those three long nights of suspense 
and torture ? If I tramped from church to 
church and picture to picture during the day, 
'twas but to escape from my own stinging 
thoughts for a moment. I argued it all out 
over and over again with myself. When we 
two had been seated side by side in the gon- 
dola — Romeo's arm half stealing round my 
waist, my head half pillowed one second on 
Romeo's shoulder — the question of ethics had 
been translucent as crystal. We saw quite 
clearly our course was mapped out for us by 
eternal equities. Even in Meta's interest, I 
was advising him for the best. "The whole 
man," I had said — " body, soul, and spirit — 
or else nothing ! " That was woman's full 


gospel of the new dispensation. Less than 
that could be no true marriage. And " is it 
not better, under such conditions, to change 
one's mind early than to change it too late ? 
Is it not better for you to speak the truth, 
even at great risk of pain and humiliation to a you have loved, than to tie her for 
life to a man who cannot give her his whole 
heart unreservedly, enthusiastically ? Is it 
not better for her to be made miserable once 
than to be made miserable for ever ? " In 
advising Romeo to break off this one-sided 
engagement, was I not advising him most of 
all in Meta Donisthorpe's interest ? 

At times I even felt as if I had suc- 
ceeded in doing a great favour, unasked, to 

But in the dead hour of night, when all 
Venice slept, and the last " Stall ! " had 
answered the last " Preme !" under my bed- 
room window, one stanza of " In Memoriam " 
kept ever recurring most inopportunely to my 
mind ; I heard it in the creaking of the vane 
on the Dogana, in the lap of the water against 
the honeycombed walls, in the sigh of the 
wind through the arches of the belfry. It 
was a reproachful sound — the voice of that 
conscience which I flattered myself the 


generation of whom I am one had analysed 
away for ever. 

" Hold thou the good ; define it well ; 
For fear divine Philosophy 
Should push beyond her mark, and be 
Procuress to the Lords of Hell." 

The Lords of Hell ! The Lords of Hell ! 
It clanged with the hour from the great Cam- 
panile ! V\'^as that where my sophisms were 
taking me, I wondered ? The Lords of Hell ! 
The Lords of Hell ! Had I advised Romeo 
aright, as the woman who loves a man should 
strive to advise him at dangerous passes ? 

On the third day of the three I rose early 
from my sleepless bed — tired of tossing off 
the quilt — and wandered out by myself east- 
ward through the tortuous labyrinth of elbow- 
bending streets that spreads between St. 
Mark's and St. George of the Slavonians. I 
was bound no whither in particular ; I let 
each narrow flagged alley, each canal-side 
causeway, lead me onward where it would ; 
but, without design on my part, I found my- 
self at last ;on the small paved platform with 
the slimy green steps that catches the morn- 
ing sun, in front of San Giorgio degli Schia- 
voni. "San Giorgio ! " I thought to myself; 
"1 must stray in here for awhile for rest and 


meditation. After Nicholas of Myra, has not 
the ever-blessed George been most of all my 
patron ? Let me lay before him my doubts — 
a poor maiden' doubts ; it may be that the 
courteous young saint will resolve them." 

I pushed aside the padded curtain, and sat 
down on one of the seats. Venetian women 
were there with their babies, praying — dark- 
haired, dusky-eyed, poorly-clad, eager-spirited. 
For a while my eyes strayed to those ever- 
exquisite Carpaccios, high ranged on the left- 
hand wall, which tell the pretty tale of the 
tutelary saint with naive Venetian idealistic 
realism. I scarce knew which of the two chief 
actors I admired the more — in the episode of 
the slaying of the dragon, so familiar to me 
from my own life, the beautiful, graceful youth, 
with his loose golden hair rippling free on the 
wind ; or, in the scene of the baptism, the 
kneeling Princess Cleodolind, her long, fair 
tresses flowing richly down her back as she 
bends to receive the sacrament of the font at the 
hands of her chivalrous and devout deliverer. 
St. George, I fancied, in his earnest, clear 
face, somehow recalled my Romeo ; but the 
Princess — I shuddered : what ill-omen was 
this ? The Princess whom he baptised was a 
fair-haired maiden. I knew Meta was fair — 


had he not spoken of her "masses of yellow 
tow " ? A cold thrill ran down my spine. 
Oh, St. Nicholas — oh, St. George, avert the 
omen ! 

I pulled out my little silver crucifix, and, 
clasping it tight, decided to lay my case before 
the Madonna herself, who reigns in the altar- 
piece. Am I a Catholic, then ? you ask. 
That is alien to this story. There are three 
subjects which I decline to discuss : bi- 
metallism, the sex question, and my religious 

As I bent my knee before Our Lad}' on the 
shrine a low sob by my side distracted my at- 
tention. It came from a young girl a little 
apart in the gloom. Her face lay hidden in 
her hands — small gloved hands, like a lady's ; 
but her fine-fibred hair was golden and luxuri- 
antly abundant. I glanced from her to the 
Carpaccio, and from the Carpaccio to her. 
Yes, it could not be gainsaid — this was the 
Princess Cleodolind. 

Had her St. George proved untrue ? She 
was crying bitterly. 

I knew at once that was the right explana- 
tion. The sound of her sobs betrayed it. 
For there are species in crying. There is 
the cry of the mother for the loss of her son ; 


there is the cry of the wife for the faith- 
lessness of her husband ; there is the 
cry of the maiden for the defection of 
her lover. Each has its own note, recog- 
nisable at the first sound to those who have 
once heard it We talk in such cases of 
woman's intuition ; it were truer, I think, to 
call it inference, for inference it is from 
delicate observation. All women observe 
keenly the symptoms of emotion; at moments 
of exaltation or passion they observe them 
with an almost miraculous acuteness. I knew 
in a second that Cleodolind had lost her lover's 
heart ; and I guessed in a flash that Cleodo- 
lind was Meta. 

She was dressed like a lady ; and out at 
this early hour; when she and I, alone of our 
class, driven from our beds by alternative 
aspects of the self-same problem, were abroad 
among the fisherwomen. 

I gazed at her with the respect one always 
accords to sorrow. My heart misgave me. 
How easy it was in the gondola to philoso- 
phise in the abstract ; but here, on dry land, 
and in sight of this poor child with the break- 
ing heart — philosophy in the concrete seemed 
to present its own fresh difficulties. 

Of a sudden she raised her face, and glanced 


across at me, piteously. Her eyes met mine. 
I started. The wisp of a figure, the pathetic 
blue eyes, the sunny fluff of hair : it was 

I took it in with a great gulp. Michaela 
was Meta, then, and Meta Michaela. 

I could not understand it, for the inscription 
on her card said, not Donisthorpe, but " Miss 
Allardyce"; and had she not told me that her 
Christian name was Margaret ? But I had 
no time to think it out just then. With a 
little cry of pleasure, she came over to me, 
still weeping. 

" You dear thing ! " she whispered, holding 
out her gloved hand, "what a comfort to see 
you ! I want to have a talk with you. You 
were so good to me at Holmwood." 

I saw it was inevitable. I must face Meta 
now. I took her hand in mine, with a deep 
sense of repentant treachery. " Come out 
with me, dear," I said, for she melted my 
heart. ** Tell me all your trouble." 

She pressed my hand in return. "I knew 
you would be good to me," she answered. 
" You are odd, but oh, so good. I saw it in 
your big eyes the first day 1 met you. Do 
you know, your eyes are magnetic; they seem 
to draw one." 


" So I have been told," I answered bitterly. 

" Where can we go to talk ? " she asked. 
She had a caressing voice. " I am sure you 
will do me good. And I do so want to talk 
this over with somebody else besides mamma. 
Mamma is like a feather-bed. She is kind in 
her way, but so soft and comfortable. Noth- 
ing seems to make a dint in her." 

Inventiveness forsook me. I had no sug- 
gestion to offer except another gondola. And 
even at that moment, when the world whirled 
round madly with myself for pivot, I was 
dimly conscious, as one is often conscious 
of such tr'fles at a great crisis, that always 
in Venice, when people wanted a tetc-a-tctc, 
they must have taken a gondola. Nowhere 
else in that tangle of narrow streets and small 
squares could one go unobserved for a second. 

We called a gondolier. " Where shall we 
tell him to take us ? " Michaela asked. It 
was not in her nature to suggest a route 

" Out on the open," I replied. " We shall 
be less overlooked there." Then I added a 
little morosely, " If you are not afraid I shall 
drown you." 

She smiled through her tears. " You were 
always so queer," she said, " but so kind." 



She did not guess how much more reason I 
had now for drowning her. She jumped hghtly 
into the boat ; she was a light httle atomy ; 
you could have blov/n her away with a good 
puff, like thistledown. 

The gondolier took us across by San 
Giorgio Maggiore. Michaela sat by my side, 
holding my hand in hers. If ever in my life, 
I felt guilty that minute. 

So all those months I had been doing in 
earnest what I had said in jest — unconsciously 
playing Carmen to her Michaela. 1 had 
stolen away her Don Jose — and had never 
known it ! 

She told me hurriedly how the man to 
whom she was engaged had always seemed 
to love her, oh, so much — till five months 
ago ; how, since that time, his love had been 
gradually fading; how it had faded all away, 
till she was wretched, hopeless ! 

She cried so intensely that I laid her head 
on my shoulder. 'Twas a soft little head. 
I felt like a man to her as I tried to comfort 

" Five years," she sobbed out : " five 
years — all forgotten ! " 

" You must have been a child at the time 
when you began to love him," 1 murmured. 


She raised her head. " Yes, a child. 
That's what makes it so much worse ! We 
have loved and been loved since we were 
both children. Every thought, ever3^ plea- 
sure, we have shared with one another. I 
was cycling with him that day when I first 
met you. We have grown up together. He 
has grown into my heart — ever closer and 

" What is his name ? " I asked, trembling. 

She told me. I hardly needed to ask 

"Why, 1 know him a little," I said. 
" But I thought — he was engaged to a 
daughter of Lady Donisthorpe's." 

" Yes, of course. Lady Donisthorpe is my 

"But — her name is Meta ; and you are 
Margaret Allardyce ? " 

" Mamma married again ; I told you I had 
a stepfather." 

She went on with her story. She loved 
him more and more. Her heart was bound 
up with him. After so long a time, too ! If 

he had told her three years ago But 

five years — you could never make five years 
seem nothing. 

" And can you account for it ? " I inquired, 

Q 2 


to see how much she knew, stroking her 
sunny hair with my hand as I did so. 

"You dear thing! How sweetly sympa- 
thetic you are ! Oh, yes, but it is ahuost too 
dreadful to tell. A hateful woman — a type- 
writer girl at his office ! Could you ever have 
believed a person like that would come be- 
tween us ? " 

" Perhaps," I ventured to suggest, "she did 
not mean it." 

"Did not mean it? Oh, she did: the dread- 
ful creature, she has bewitched him ! He 
loves Jier best now. And yet, you would 
think that the years must count ; the years 
must count ! " She sobbed, and became in- 

" Has he told you of her ? " I faltered. 

" Oh ! no ; he says nothing. He only lets 
me feel it. But mamma met her once at a 
dinner Toto gave at the Savoy — a hateful 
vulgar creature! Mamma and his mother both 
spoke to him of the way he treated her — the 
attention he paid her — bringing a woman 
like that to dine with ladies, it was unpar- 

"Some type-writers are ladies, Michaela," 
I put in softly. "I am a type-writer myself." 

"Ah ! yes, but that is different ! you are so 


sweet, so gentle. You know so much ; you 
have been brought up like a lady; you have 
sympathy and magnetism. Tliis other crea- 
ture — mother said it was horrid to be in the 
some room with her. So loud, so noisy ! 
And she's here now, she's here ; she has fol- 
lowed him to Venice on purpose to thwart us. 
He came out to stay with me till the day we 
were to be married. And this woman, when 
she saw her hold on him was failing, rushed 
after him to prevent it. Can you believe such 
wickedness ? Mamma saw her with him in a 
gondola. Oh ! I can't bear to say it, dear, in 
a gondola, near the Riva, with his arm around 
her ! " 

" Perhaps," I hazarded, " when she came 
here she did not know he was engaged. Per- 
haps, if we could speak to her we might play 
upon some chord in her better nature." 

Michaela looked up at me admiringly. "You 
beautiful, broad-minded person," she cried ; 
"how good you are, how tolerant! You 
make allowances and excuses for everyone, 
I declare ! How I wish I was like you ! But 
she has no better nature, I believe. Mamma 
says she is a person lost to all sense of shame. 
Why, the stories she told at that dinner of 
Toto's about the places she had been in and 


thn people she had mot were quite beyond, 
yon know, quite be^'ond ; oh, too drradf'd foi- 

I risked another card, "My dear little 
friend," I said, "I speak of the tiling tiiat I 
know: she has a better nature." (Oh, God, how 
it was battling now against love of Romeo in 
her heart ; how it was grappling and strug- 
gling ! ) "I am almost sure I have met this 
girl of whom you speak. There is a type- 
writer stopping at the same hotel as myself, 
and I think she was out in a gondola the other 
day with 3'our Romeo —let us call him Romeo; 
it is 'more real and agreeable,' as Dick Swi- 
veller said to the Marchioness, and 'tis the 
only wa}^ in which I can talk about people." 
I maundered on, to gain time, for though 
outwardly I was jesting, within I was fight- 
ing wild beasts at Ephcsus. "Now, she has 
talked to me of your Romeo, and I assure 
you solemnl}', when she arrived in Venice she 
had not an idea he was engaged — of that I am 

"Ah, but she knows it now, I am sure; 
and yet, she bewitches him ! " 

I played one card still, a more doubtful 
and dangerous card than an}'. " Perhaps," I 
answered. " But the years must count. You 


arc right in that. Remember, as you say, I 
am (I hope) broad-minded. I try to sec 
tilings from everybody's point of view. From 
yours, I see now liiat Koukm) is beiiaving — 
cruelly. From tiie type-writer girl's, I sec 
that she loves him deeply, very deeply ; but 
'tis a new love, fresh grown ; however firmly 
it may have rooted itself, it has no claim on 
the score of age as against yours ; and if she 
is told so calmly and frankly, she may per- 
haps realise it. From Romeo's, I see — well, 
more than I like to tell you." T paused and 
hesitated. The effort to gain time made me 
didactic. " Life is the interaction of indi- 
vidualities," 1 said, "each seeing things its 
own way. justice is the attempt to reconcile 
them. Let us try here if we can make this 
type-writer girl see something a little beyond 
her own point of view — see, as you say, that 
the years must count. She is not wholly bad, 
whatever Lady Donisthorpe may tell you. I 
will be your ambassador. I will speak to 
her; I w^ill speak to Romeo. I will try to 
make them feel what you have made me feel 
— that the years should count. And I will 
come to San Giorgio of the Slavonians to 
tell you what success 1 have had in my em- 
bassy at this time to-morrow." 


She brightened up at the idea. She 
thanked me profusei}', " He loves me still," 
she said, "a little; only, this girl bewitches 
him. Oh, I have read about her eyes and 
her hair in his verses. He thought no one 
knew ; he put it so darkly — all wrapped up in 
words ; but I could see they were hers, 
though he thinks me so silly. I am clever 
enough where one's heart is concerned ; I 
can catch at a straw then. But if she were 
once away, I am sure he would come back to 
me." She nestled into my shoulder. "You 
dear thing ! " she cried again, grinding her 
teeth with affection, " you have put fresh 
hope in me." 

"Thank you, dear," I answered. " Do 
you remember at Holmwood I called you 
Michaela, because you were so fair, like the 
girl in the opera ? Now, f-his type-writer girl 
is dark, and she has bc.i playing Carmen 
to you — stealing your love away from you by 
her clever ways and her blandishments. She 
has gypsy attractiveness. But, Michaela, I 
am sure she did not mean it. if she had 
known of you, if she might have seen you, 
she could not have wronged you. Do you 
recollect what I said to you in the train that 
day — ' You dear little thing, no v^ne could ever 


hurt you ! * ? Well, I am sure the type- 
writer woman would feel as I do — if she knew 
you. But I want to make you promise me 
one thing — if I bring you back your Romeo, 
you will forgive her ? — you will never again 
call her a horrid creature ? " 

She soothed my hand in turn. " I could 
promise you anything," she said. "I never 
knew anyone so tender and helpful." 

We bid the gondolier turn. She held my 
hand still ; blue sky in her eyes shone after 
the rain. " Only to think," she cried, " I 
have met you three times — no more ; and 
yet I feel you are a dear friend — the sort 
of friend who would do anything for one." 

"You have reason," I answered. 

We returned to the Molo. A crushed heart 
and a doubtful one had embarked in that gon- 
dola ; a crushed heart and a doubtful one 
disembarked from it again. But they had 
changed places. 

Three days ago I had seen through the 
gates of Paradise. To-day an angel with a 
flaming sword stood to bar my entrance. 
And, worst of all, I knew his name was 



I TRAir.ED back to my hotel, surely the most 
abject soul in Venice. Michaela's misappre- 
hension of my motives I did not resent ; the 
American eagle in my breast had scarce a 
flap left — a more draggle-plumed bird I had 
seldom seen. But all was at an end. I had 
lost my Romeo. 

My interview with the first of the two 
delinquents whom I had engaged to lure back 
to the path of rectitude I got over quickly on 
my way home. It was not a hard one. The 
culprit, sitting meekly on the penitent's bench, 
listened to all my blame with a contrite heart ; 
and in consideration of her contrition I con- 
doned her evil deeds. It was easy to con- 
done, for here I knew all, and to know all is 
to forgive all. Michaela would have forgiven 
had she seen into that poor mangled heart as 
I did. 

Looking back over my life dispassionately 


from the calm height of twenty-three, as if I 
were looking at some other woman's life, I 
think I can say I have never acted wrong — 
grossly and unforgivably wrong — given the 
circumstances. It is those alone that others 
iail to understand. If they understood, they 
must sympathise where now they blame us. 

Could Michaela have watched, stage by 
stage, the slow organic growth of my love for 
Romeo; could she have felt the inevitability, 
the consecutiveness of the way it unfolded ; 
could she have realised its foregone certainty 
as an outcome of two natures, I think, dear 
little soul, even she would have hesitated to 
call me " that horrid woman." 

But it was all past now, and she had re- 
gained her Romeo. 

One culprit had recanted. I had still to 
face my embassy to the second high contract- 
ing party. 

I sat by the balconied open window of my 
bedroom and looked down into the canal. It 
was almost the hour for Romeo's daily passage. 
Slow barges with firewood drifted lazily by, 
then a boat-load of purple egg-fruit and 
heaped golden melons, with a gondola or two 
loitering on the look-out for passengers, like 
our London crawlers, 


At last my heart began to beat, not high as 
it had beaten the two previous mornings, but 
with a low foreboding. Another gondola 
swung with a graceful curve round the huge 
bosses of the corner palace ; in it, a familiar 
crush Tyrolese hat, and beneath the hat, 

He gazed up at me, smiled, and waved one 
hand ; but his look was anxious. 

I leaned out and called to him : " Romeo, 
Romeo, Romeo ! " 

He rose and glanced at me with checked 
breath and eager eyes. 

''Come up here," I faltered; "I want to 
speak with you." 

" In your room ? " he cried, hesitating. 

I felt it was no moment to stand on false 
convention. " Yes, in my room," I answered. 
" Have I not told you I have confidence in 
myself and my guardian angel ? " 

He waved the gondolier to the steps, 
leaped lightly out, English athlete that he 
was, and was with me in a moment. 

I might have treated the situation melo- 
dramatically and hissed out at him " Traitor ! " 
(But then, it is true, I unconsciously shared 
his treachery.) Instead of that I treated it 
like a woman, and burst into tears before him. 


He drew a chair by my side. His white 
face quivered. "You have seenMeta?"he 
faltered out. 

I could feel his heart throb. 

" Yes," I answered, " I have seen her, and 
— I find I know her. Romeo, we were all 
wrong. We were deceiving our own hearts 
with specious sophisms. She said to me in 
her soft small voice, all choked with tears, 
' The years must count ; the years must 
count ! ' — and — she was right when she said 
it ! " 

He flung himsell upon me. " Juliet ! " he 
cried, "dear Juliet, I too have suffered. I have 
battled with my own soul. The beast has 
fought the angel and the angel the man in me. 
When I see her, when I am with her — so 
gentle, so childish, so cruelly hurt by my 
coldness, or what she thinks my coldness — 
how can 1 have the heart to break to her the 
resolution we formed ? Yet the moment I 
leave her I know it is the right one. It 
would be wrong of me to marry her now, 
having found my true mate — wrong for her 
own sake. * The whole man — body, soul, 
and spirit — or nothing.' Do not go back 
on your own words. It would be treason 
to the eternal cause of woman." 


He spoke so vehemently that I faltered. 

Then Michaela's pale face, v/ith the gentle 
blue eyes swollen red from weeping, came up 
like a mist before me. " You shall not wrong 
that child ! " I cried. "Much as I love you, 
Romeo, not even for my sake will I allow 
you to wrong her. She is right and we 
are wrong ; the years must count. She has 
grown up with your love inextricably twined 
by rootlets and tendrils through the fibre ol 
her being ; to tear it away now were to tear 
her very heart out. She lives on your affec- 
tion. To see is to understand ; before I saw 
her I thought as we thought at the Lido. 
Now I know better. I will not allow you to 
wrong her." 

He drew away a step and looked me over 
with his keen eyes from head to foot. I 
quailed before his glance, so full it was of 
admiration. " My Juliet ! " he cried. " Why 
talk ? I love you for tJiis better than I have 
ever loved you ! That you can contemplate 
such a sacrifice for honour's sake and for 
justice — the greater to the less, you to Meta 
— shows me you are more worthy to be loved 
than even I thought you. I cannot marry any- 
one but you. You, you, you ! O, God," he 
flung himself upon me in an ecstasy, "to 


think that in a world which holds such a 
woman as you they should call upon me to 
content myself with that wax doll of a Mcta ! " 

I untwined his arms quietly. I was fighting 
now the battle of my sex, and I almost forgot 
myself in my advocacy of Michaela. " You 
shall not speak so of her ! " I cried ; " the girl 
whom you have loved for years — the girl to 
whom you have uttered such vows, on whom 
you have bestowed such kisses. It is an 
insult to our sex. The years must count — 
the years and the endearments." 

He stood away and began again. "Juliet," 
he murmured, in caressing tones, and in his 
flute-like voice, as if he loved to repeat my 
name, " there is one woman in the world 
supremely fitted for me. She has courage, 
she has wit, imagination, fancy. She can 
hold her own ; vivacious, brave, strenuous. 
One of her stray black elf-locks is worth all 
Meta's loose gold. Yet she has high purpose 
enough to plead another woman's cause 
against her own heart, her own happiness. 
Her brain is alert ; her eye electric ; her soul 
womanly. The more she argues, the more 
does she make me admire her, reverence her, 
worship her. Go on pleading if you will, dear 
heart ; I love to hear 3^ou, to watch you ; but 


every word you say, every hand you move, 
for Meta, only strengthens my resolve that 
you I will have, or I will have nobody. 
Against your will, I will make you happy." 

He sat down by my side again, and bent 
towards me coaxingly. In his low sweet 
voice he began to reason. I listened while 
he said over again every argument we had 
used together by the shrine of St. Nicholas, 
with others like them. If he married Meta, 
how could she hold his heart ? She would 
be the mistress of his house, a sort of superior 
pet bird, to be tricked out in fine feathers, to 
be coaxed, stroked, fondled ; but not a wife. 
If he married me, we should go through the 
world together, equally paired, soul-wedded, 
each mirroring the other's mind, each respect- 
ing, admiring, reinforcing the other. We 
two were natural complements. Why seek 
to throw him back from the higher upon the 
lower ? 

I listened and trembled. What he said 
was so flattering to one's own inner vanity, 
seemed so exactly what one thought in pri- 
vate when one dared to be frank with oneself, 
had such a show of eternal and immutable 
reason, that the temptation to go back on my 
word and accept his argument as true was 


almost irresistible. If I had not seen Michaela, 
I think I should have yielded. Love, one's own 
heart, the man one adores at one's feet, these 
are dangerous assailants. But I closed my 
eyes, and there Michaela's blue eyes rose up, 
appealing to me in the gondola, with that 
piteous cry, " The years must count ; the 
years must count ! " wailed out ever from her 
heart ; and I knew I was fighting the com- 
mon battle of womanhood. If I were to turn 
traitor now, I should turn traitor to whatever 
I had within me best worth calling a con- 

He seized my hand and kissed it. When 
the lips of the man you love touch you, it is 
hard to refuse. But I drew the hand away. 
He followed it up. His breath was warm 
upon my cheek. My bosom rose in a tumult. 
I began to fear I had presumed too much 
upon my guardian angel. If Romeo pressed 
me hard now, I must throw Michaela over- 
board — I must forget his honour, the years 
that count, the battle of my sex, all that is 
sacred on earth, everything save myself and 
Romeo. If he asked me, I must say, "Yes; 
let the white girl go ; I will be yours, my 

Then, conscious of my own weakness — 



with an impulse as if from without, of a 
sudden I flung myself on my knees, and 
prayed silently and earnestly for strength to 
do right, strength to refrain from betraying 

Romeo stood off with clasped hands, ob- 
serving me in dead silence. 

I rose from my knees another woman. The 
soul of womanhood found voice within me. 
" Romeo, dear Romeo," I cried, facing him, 
and speaking like one inspired, "it is not a 
question for you; it is a question for me. I 
love you with all my soul; but I refuse to 
marry you. I will not be a traitor ; the years 
must count : go back to Meta ! " 

He caught my hand in his. I let it lie like 
a stone. "Dj not send me away," he im- 
plored. " Let me stop with you a little ! " 

I sank into a chair. He did the same. "But 
remember," I gasped, between two sighs, 
"this is final." 

Tears rose to his eyes. He began to speak 
once more. " You must not think, dearest," 
he said, " I have not felt for Meta. Not all 
these nights have I slept ; but, honestly, in 
the dark, I thought it out, and I came to the 
conclusion it would be best in the end — even 
for Meta." 


" Romeo," I said, raising my eyes, "do you 
love me ? " 

He made a hasty gesture as if he would 
fling himself upon me once more. 

I waved him off with one open palm. 
" Then promise me, promise me, you will go 
back to Meta." 

" I cannot ! " he cried. " I love you." 

" Will you go back to Meta ? " 

It was a hard, long struggle. We parried, 
thrust, marched, countermarched, evaded; but 
I had taken it in hand, and I determined to 
finish it. Inch by inch falling back, but still 
fighting, he gave way. He saw I was in 
earnest. Behind each line of defence, each 
logical hedge, he tried to argue it out again. I 
cut him short with a hasty gesture. "A man, 
yes, he can forget the years ; but a woman — 
never ! " 

At last, worn out, he promised. In the 
agony of my excitement I took his yielding 
as a personal triumph. I had asked of my 
lover a difficult gift, and by dint of woman's 
armoury, had prevailed on him to grant 

"But — you will stop on at the office ?" he 

asked at last, holding his breath. 

I turned on him. " How could I ? For 

R 2 


Mcta's sake, impossible ; for my own, an 

"And — I must never sec you again ?" 

I bowed my head. " Tiiese things arc 
made so. It is yes or nu. Uycs, for hfc ; if 
uo, then never." 

He advanced towards me, with his lips 
trembling visibly. " 1 may say good-bye ? " 
he faltered. 

My heart leaped to break its strings. I 
knew not what to say. At last — " Yes, if it 
is good-bye, and if you go back to Mcta." 

He seized me in his arms. 1 will not deny 
that for one whole minute I lay there sobbing, 
happy. It is little, for a lifetime. Then I 
moved him away softly. He clung to me, 
panting. "Now you must go," I whispered. 
' Do not tell her it was /. Keep my secret!" 

I opened the door. For a second he lin- 
gered. I waved him away. I could endure it 
no longer. Looking back and breathing hard, 
he passed through into the passage. I turned 
the key in the lock to satisfy mysell that that 
embassy was fulfilled ; then I fell on the bed, 
and cried a low cry, " Romeo ! Romeo ! " 



So my poor little Odyssey had come to an end 
in shipwreck ! Mr. Samuel Butler must be 
wrong, after all. I doubt a woman's ability 
to handle these sustained epics. I was to get 
no farther on my way to Ithaca than the 
episode of Phaeacia. Nor would an}' Nausicaa 
come forth to aid me. 

After I had cried my heart's full — cried till 
that point when you begin to leave off and to 
laugh like a child at nothing, for pure weari- 
ness — the humorous element, which inevitably 
enters into all human tragedy, pressed itscU 
upon me. On the stage, art never lets these 
incongruous incidents intervene at critical 
moments to disturb the current : in real life, 
they zvill obtrude their faces, like Paul Pry ; 
and 'tis my misfortune and my good luck 
that, with some grain of Heine in my com- 
position, I cannot shut my eyes to them. So 
here,the comic muse,masqueradingas Common 


Sense,steppedinvvith one grotesque reminder: 
" You have no money to pay your way back 
to London." 

Now, gypsy or American or Anglo-Indian 
or what you will, I am true Briton in this, 
that whatever misfortune lowers, I sec one 
path of safety — the road home to London. 
" If only I could get back to London ! " is the 
Briton's heart-felt cry of distress in a foreign 
land. He can starve in comfort, so he may 
starve in Piccadilly. 

I have already explained that I am wholly 
free from the vile vice of prudence. To take 
no thought for the morrow is to me an article 
of religion, though 'tis rare among those who 
profess to accept it as a divine injunction. 
Acting on this principle, I had bought a single 
second-class ticket to Venice, as my funds 
were insufficient to pay for a return. It was 
my idea, when I started, to trust for my 
journey home to the saint who lies at the Lido. 
Now, however, I found myself in an awkward 
predicament. St. Nicholas had played me a 
last bad turn. I had bought perforce a new 
travelling costume before I left England, for 
I recognised that my rational dress with the 
knickerbockers would harmonise ill with the 
genius of Venice; the rest of my cash in 


hand had gone for beds at Lucerne or Milan, 
and passing necessaries. I stood face to face 
with an Italian court of bankruptcy ; liabilities, 
my hotel bill ; assets, five paper lire. 

To borrow from Romeo was now clearly 
impossible. And the canals are so redolent 
of thirty generations of Venetian refuse that 
suicide does not offer here its normal allure- 

This brought the revulsion. I lay on my 
bed and laughed to think that, broken heart 
or not, I could not get away from Venice. 

By evening, I had a headache. I was cry- 
ing once more. But the worst of headache is 
that it never kills. 

Early next morning I woke from a short 
snatch of sleep with a dull pain in my left 
side. It was moral, not physical. I rose, to 
ease it by action. Oubliez ; voyagez ! I had 
still qualms of conscience — I who fancied I 
had dissected conscience out of existence : 
but this time they were reversed. Had I 
done right, after all, in speeding Romeo to his 
fate? Would Michaela be a mate for him ? 
Was it not better as it was before — for the 
greatest happiness of the greatest number 
at least ? St. Nicholas, help ! John Stuart 
Mill, stand by me I 


I dressed, bathed my red eyes, and went 
out to keep my appointment. I was early at 
San Giorgio, but Michaela was before me. 
As I lifted the heavy curtain, her eyes shone 
happiness. In her radiant countenance I read 
my doom. She was calmly, serenely joyous. 
I beckoned her to the campo. She flitted out, 
and with a charming baby impulse flung her 
arms around me. 

Tears rose in my eyes. It was sweet to see 
her happy. I held her hand and said nothing. 

"Well, he has explained all," she whispered. 
"You were a dear to speak to him." 

" Explained ! " I cried. How true it is that 
explanations explain nothing ! 

"Yes, he told mamma he did not know the 
type-writer girl was coming to Venice. He 
went out with her in a gondola because he met 
her by accident — and it was such a surprise to 
him; and he wanted to avoid mamma. But he 
is not going to see her again, and I believe he 
will dismiss her." 

"No, dear," I said gently, unable to restrain 
myself, "he will not dismiss her, because — 
she will go away of her own accord. She 
does not intend to remain with him. I have 
seen her, and I can assure you she is better 
than you think. She did not know Romeo 


was engaged ; and when she fully realised it 
she relinquished all claim to him, or rather 
admitted she had never had one. Michaela, 
dear child, you must not be hard upon her. 
You promised to forgive her. I feel sure she 
has suffered, for she loved him devotedly." 

"How good you are!" Michaela cried. 
" You sympathise so with everyone ! " 

" She has promised me," I went on, " that 
she will never again see him, that she will 
avoid him with care, that she will not speak 
to him nor write to him. She will try to forget 
him, though to forget him is as impossible for 
her as for you. But she will be true to you ; 
she will keep her word. I can answer for 
her as I could answer for myself; she spoke 
with such earnestness. She is tearing out 
her heart; but because she thinks it right she 
will tear it out ruthlessly." 

Michaela smiled a tranquil smile. " And it 
is all right now," she said. "We are to be 
married in October, as we arranged origin- 


We walked along the canal. We walked 
side by side, but great gulfs separated us. 
At last I spoke again. " You forgive her, 

" Oh ! yes, dear, I forgive her. If she did 


not know, of course it was natural. He is 
such a clear ! She could not help falling in 
love with him ! " 

"So I feel," I said. She glanced up at me 
with inquiring blue eyes. I think for a 
second she half suspected the truth, for I had 
spoken too deeply. 

We walked on in silence a little farther. 
Then Michaela began again, brimming over 
with her happiness. " I haven't a quarter 
thanked you. But I am so grateful! You 
were a sweet to see them both. You will 
come to my wedding ? " 

"No, dearest," I answered, driving back the 
tears with a fierce effort. " If so, I should 
be breaking a solemn promise." 

Again she seemed to suspect, and again the 
doubt went from her. 

" It was all a mistake," she continued, in a 
childish, sunny way, " a passing cloud. And 
Toto seemed so distressed, I couldn't help feel- 
ing sorry to see him so sorry for me. It has 
touched him very deep. He cried a great deal. 
He has been crying all the time. But it is all 
right now. We shall be quite happy ! " 

I swallowed a lump. What a child it was ! 
And there lay the irony. I think I could have 
spared Romeo better had I felt I was sparing 


him to more of a woman. Self-sacrifice for 
some great soul would be easy : but for a bit 
of thistle-down ! And yet I loved her. 

" I told mamma how kind you had been," 
Micliacla went on, quite guilelessly, "and she 
wants to see you so much. You must come and 
dine with us at our hotel. How long do you 
stop in Venice ? " 

I paused and reflected. I had done her a 
service— a very great service ; what need to 
stand on trifles ? For I do not share the 
vulgar dread of putting myself under an 

" Dear little Michaela," I said, spanning her 
arm with one hand — it was so fairy-like and 
tiny — and drawing iier towards me, " I will 
confess the truth. I am travelling with that 
type-writer girl. I know her intimately. 
Now, I want to spirit her away from Venice 
at once, so that she may not see Romeo, and 
that Romeo may not see her. It would be 
awkward for both of them. But I have no 
money. I borrowed from you once and re- 
paid you faithfully ; if I borrow from you 
again I will repay in like manner. This is a 
worse strait than Holmwood. I shall need 
six or seven pounds. My dear, can you lend 
it to me ? " 


She drew out the dainty purse. "Why, 
of course, dear, if I have it. Fifty, a hundred 
and fifty, two hundred lire ; will that be 
enough for you ? " 

"Yes, my child," I gasped out, taking the 
crumpled notes and crushing them in my 
folded hand. " If I work my fingers to the 
bone you shall have it back." 

We walked on towards the Molo. O grey, 
grey Venice ! The greatest happiness of the 
greatest number. Back, back, Stuart Mill ! 
Get thee behind me, Satan ! A gondola 
approached. I hailed it. 

"Where are you going?" she cried, sur- 

"Away," I said, "at once. It is better — 
safer! 1 will give the devil no chances." 
Then to the gondolier, " Hold off a little ! " 

He held off beyond jumping distance. 
Michaela hung over on the bridge close by, 

" Michaela," I cried, " now I will tell you ! " 
An impulse came over me; I could no longer 
resist it. " It was / who stole your Romeo's 
heart by mistake ! It was / who played Car- 
men and beguiled your Don Jose. It was / 
who sent him back. / am the type-writer 
girl ! " 


" You ! " she cried, waving to me to return. 
" Oh, you dear thing, come back ! If it was 
you, how good you have been ! Why, I can 
see it in your face. You have suffered for 
my sake ! Come back, and let me kiss you ! " 

" No, dearest," I said, melting. " I must 
go. I dare not trust myself. Good-bye for 
ever ! Good-bye to you ; good-bye to Romeo. 
Give him that message for me ; I will never 
again see him." I turned to the gondolier. 
" Quick, row for all you are worth ! To my 
hotel first, then on to the railway station ! " 

If this book succeeds I mean to repay 
Michaela. Meanwhile, in any case, I am 
saving up daily every farthing to repay her. 
For I am still a type-writer girl— at another 


Makomson &> Co., Ltd., Printers, Kedhill. 

NEW 38. ed. FICTION. 


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Otlior writers Imvo treated tlilH theiiiv, but tliuy have (teiK'niHy Blvcti tlic Invlf^llilo man a nowor 
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